The largest transnational producers of food and beverages working in Russia will limit advertisement of their products to children. Specifically, the companies will limit advertisement of baked goods, chips and fast-food that may be harmful for young people. Similar measures have been already taken in a number of countries. The agreement between Russian divisions of the transnational companies will come into force in the beginning of 2010.
The participating companies include Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, Kraft Foods, Bolshevik, Mars, PepsiCo, Unilever, Inmarko and Nestle. These companies will limit their advertisement to children under 12. Russia joined the USA, European Union, Brazil and South Africa that already have similar agreements. Representatives of the World Federation of Advertisers explained that only the products that are not considered healthful by the Russian Ministry of Health and the Consumer Union of Russia will be banned for advertising. The limitations involve TV and radio commercials, print and online advertisement, and phone messages. The manufactures also promise not to distribute their advertising materials in elementary schools, with the exception of certain specified cases.
Such self-limitations are not very typical for large companies. However, the companies did not really assume any responsibilities. The share of children’s programs in Russian media is extremely small, but it does not mean that children under 12 do not watch TV. They remain the consumers of these commercials since the limitations only concern specialized children’s TV programs and other children’s media.
“Russian companies followed the rule de-facto, and today General Director of Nestle Russia Stefan De Loecke signed the Russian document that confirmed Nestle’s obligations regarding advertising targeted at children under 12 and reinforced our commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Currently our advertising activity is in full compliance with the terms and conditions specified in the document and will not be changed,” Andrey Bader, corporate director of Nestle Russia told to BFM.ru
Food manufacturers are working for the future. The Inter-republic Confederation of Consumer Societies (Konfop) is one of the main opponents of unhealthful food advertisement. In 2008 Konfop suggested banning all TV commercials advertising food for babies under six months and showing commercials of food high in salt, sugar and fats from 6pm to 9pm.
Russian health-conscious organizations may begin the fight to ban fast food commercials. The State Duma is working on amendments to the advertisement-related legislation as many articles are outdated. The existing legislation limits commercials placement in children’s programs.
Although there are no official legislative initiatives regarding limitations of unhealthful food advertising, the ideas already exist. Transnational corporations anticipated the trend and decided to be ahead of the game, especially considering the fact that it does not cost them anything.