Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Nutritional Information on Packaging is too Late

Mumbrella reported last week that cereal manufacturer Kellogg’s has been named the main villain at the Fame & Shame Awards, organised by campaigning group Parents Jury.

smoke n mirrors award Parents Jury handed out the “Smoke and Mirrors” award to Nutri-Grain which is for the use of claims on children's foods that make an unhealthy product appear healthier than it is. Nutri-Grain won for promoting the sugary cereal as a suitable breakfast cereal for boys who aspire to become elite athletes.

In response, Kellogg’s points out that it is a signatory to the industry’s codes of practice on marketing of food to children and abides by those standards. They also advised that “We take our responsibilities seriously. Nutritional information appears clearly on the product labelling”.

For me, that information comes way too late.

The decision to buy Nutri-Grain has already been made prior to getting to the supermarket and therefore circumvents any negative perception of the product that may be communicated on the package. How many parents who decide to start buying Nutri-Grain will seriously stop and read the nutritional information? Not many because the ad has already convinced them to buy it or maybe the kids have pestered them enough to buy it.

Printing nutritional information on the product simply forces Nutri-Grain to head upstream in the buyer decision process and create positive nutritional messages in a  forum where they are not required to be as forthcoming with the truth as they must on packaging.

That’s not rocket science I guess and they are playing within the rules but it makes a mockery of an industry code.

I wonder whether one day TV, print ads etc will be forced to carry nutritional information in those channels? How effective would TV advertising be if the Nutri-Grain ad had to carry a note on the screen that informed us that a 100g serving provides the 32g of sugar at 37% of your recommended daily intake?

For those that work in the advertising industry – would you be scared by this prospect if Nutri-grain was one of your clients?