About the Initiative
The Canadian Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (Children's Advertising Initiative) is a voluntary initiative by leading Canadian food and beverage companies (Participants). In April 2007, Participants announced their collaborative commitment to use their creativity and marketing activities to promote and support healthy dietary choices and healthy lifestyles to children under 12 years of age.
Through the Children's Advertising Initiative, Participants are shifting their advertising and marketing emphasis to foods and beverages that are consistent with the principles of sound nutrition guidance, including those that are lower in total calories, fats, salts and added sugars, and higher in nutrients that are significant to public health.
To ensure that this program is both transparent and accountable, Participants asked Ad Standards, the industry's independent self-regulatory body, to administer the Children's Advertising Initiative.
Advertising Messaging and Content
Participants commit that 100% of their television, radio, print and internet advertising directed primarily to children under 12 years of age1 will be for products that represent healthier dietary choices (better-for-you products) pursuant to the Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative’s category-specific Uniform Nutrition Criteria, set out in the “Uniform Nutrition Criteria White Paper”, and attached as Appendix A. Alternatively, Participants may commit to not direct advertising primarily to children under 12 years of age2.
This principle also applies to advertising that is primarily directed to children in the following media:
- company-owned websites or micro-sites primarily directed to children under 12 years of age;
- video and computer games rated “Early Childhood” or “EC,” which are inherently primarily directed to children under 12, and other games that are age-graded on the label and packaging as being primarily directed to children under 12;
- DVDs of movies that are rated “G” whose content is primarily directed to children under 12, and other DVDs whose content is primarily directed to children under 12;
- mobile media such as cell phones, smart phones, tablets, other personal digital devices and through word of mouth3 where advertising on those media is primarily directed to children under 12.
Use of Products in Interactive Games
Participants commit that, in any interactive game primarily directed to children under 12 (in whatever format: online, disk or cartridge) where the company’s food or beverage products are incorporated into the game, the interactive game must incorporate or be accompanied by products representing better-for-you products.
Use of Licensed Characters, Celebrities and Movie Tie-ins
While the use of licensed characters, celebrities and movie tie-ins is already restricted in children’s broadcast advertising4, participants also commit to ensure that their use of third-party licensed characters, celebrities and movie tie-ins in advertising that appears in other media primarily directed to children under 125 complies with the messaging and content principles set out above.
Participating companies commit to not paying for or actively seeking to place their food or beverage products in the program/editorial content of any medium primarily directed to children under 12 for the purpose of promoting the sale of those products.
Advertising in Schools
Participating companies remain committed to adhering to standards established by schools individually and by school boards overall. Furthermore, participants will commit to not advertising food or beverage products in elementary schools – pre-kindergarten through Grade 66.
Each participating company formalizes and publishes an individual plan, commitment details, and implementation schedule that have been approved by Advertising Standards Canada (Ad Standards), the program administrator. A copy of each participating company’s current commitment document is posted on the Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative section of Ad Standards’ website: https://adstandards.ca/about/childrens-advertising-initiative/
Auditing and Enforcement
The plans for each participating company, including their specific commitments are established in consultation with Ad Standards.
Ad Standards is responsible for auditing commitments by participating companies. In order to confirm compliance by participating companies, auditing includes the review of advertising materials, product information, and media impression information (see footnote 1) submitted to Ad Standards on a confidential basis.
Ad Standards publishes annual compliance reports identifying those companies that meet their commitments as well as those who have failed to do so. Ad Standards also responds to all public inquiries relating to these reports.
- Campbell Company of Canada
- Coca-Cola Ltd.
- Danone Inc.
- Ferrero Canada Ltd.
- General Mills Canada Corporation
- Hershey Canada Inc.
- Kellogg Canada Inc.
- Kraft Heinz Canada
- Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
- Mars Canada Inc.
- McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Ltd.
- Mondelēz Canada
- Nestlé Canada Inc.
- PepsiCo Canada ULC
- Unilever Canada Inc.
To view the Participants' Commitments, click here.
1. Measured in media impressions at the time the advertising is purchased, as determined by reliable third party data such as Numeris ratings for TV and radio, ComScore for Internet, Vividata for print, COMB (Canadian Outdoor Measured Bureau) for outdoor and others. The commitment will be calculated separately for each advertising medium. Measurement of advertising on company-owned websites will be determined in accordance with standards established as part of the company’s commitment.
2. Participants also are encouraged to disseminate healthy lifestyle messaging. This could include messaging that encourages physical activity or good dietary habits, consistent with established scientific and/or government standards.
3. The commitment regarding word of mouth advertising refers to advertising where a Participant provides incentives (financial or otherwise), product samples or other support to individuals or groups who are not employees to promote consumption of branded food or beverage products or to promote discussion of such products, and the advertising is primarily directed to children under 12 years of age.
4. Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children – Clause 7: Promotion by Program Characters, Advertising-Generated Characters, and Personal Endorsements.
5. This commitment does not extend to the use of licensed characters on packaging, provided the packaging does not appear in advertising directed to children under 12. This limitation will not apply to the use of company-created/owned characters.
6. This limitation will not apply to displays of food and beverage products, charitable /not-for-profit activities including fundraising, public service messaging and educational programs.