Food giant Unilever will no longer advertise its ice creams directly to children under 12.
The company, which owns Wall’s and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brands, has announced it will stop using cartoon characters, celebrities and social media stars “who primarily appeal” to young children.
It will also stop marketing and advertising foods and beverages to children under 12 in traditional media, and to those below 13 via social media.
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Wall’s – popular for its Twister, Paddle Pop and Max ice lollies – will also launch a “Responsibly Made for Kids” range which will feature ice creams with no more than 110 calories and 12g of sugar per portion.
The new rules will be applied to the company’s ice cream businesses first, and then all of its products by the end of 2020 in a bid to tackle childhood obesity across the globe.
Ian Maskell, vice president of global brand development at Unilever, told The Independent: “As far as we know, we are the only big, multinational ice cream company to take this stand.”
He added: “Certainly our strategy now is to target parents and caregivers so they can be educated to make responsible choices around providing snacks for their kids – so you could argue it would be competitive.
“We are not doing this for competitive reasons per se, we are doing this because we think it’s the right thing to do, whether it gives us a competitive advantage or not is another question.”
In the UK, recent Public Health England figures revealed a record number of children were severely obese by their final year of school.
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The annual data, released in October 2019, showed the proportion of pupils aged 10 and 11 who were seriously overweight rose to 4.4 per cent in 2019 from 3.2 per cent in 2006-7.
It was the fourth consecutive year severe obesity in Year 6 had broken records.