Notre Dame study into online food marketing to kids wins award

Author: Carol Elliott

Notre Dame study into online food marketing to kids wins award

Research into how companies pitch food marketing to children online recently earned significant recognition for the study’s authors. Elizabeth S. Moore, University of Notre Dame Chair in Business and Associate Professor of Marketing, received the Thomas C. Kinnear/Journal of Public Policy & Marketing Award for their article, "The Online Marketing of Food to Children: Is It Just Fun and Games?" The article, co-authored with Victoria J. Rideout of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, appeared in the fall 2007 issue of Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.

“Understanding new ways of marketing to children is critically important in the ongoing obesity debate.  Regulators, industry leaders and the public health community are currently involved in evaluating policy options for all forms of marketing to children,” said Moore.  “Just this week, for example, the Federal Trade Commission held a forum evaluating the steps that industry has taken to regulate itself.  I think our study helped to bring the whole issue of online marketing to children to the attention of key decision makers.”

The study was the first comprehensive analysis of online food marketing that targets children, including “advergames” or online games that feature a company’s product or brand characters. This type of marketing has become popular as children become Web savvy at younger ages. But it has also triggered increasing concern, as rates of childhood and teen obesity rates rise.

Moore and her team of five student researchers examined 4,000 Web pages on 77 sites, which received more than 12.2 million visits by children ages 2 to 11 in the second quarter of 2005. The findings showed that the online presence goes much deeper than TV food ads geared to kids and further blurs the line between advertising and entertainment.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit, private operating foundation dedicated to providing information and analysis on health care issues to policymakers, the media, the health care community and the public.

The annual Kinnear award, first presented in 1993, is named after Thomas C. Kinnear, Eugene Applebaum Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies & Professor of Marketing at the University of Michigan, in recognition of his contributions to the journal. Its purpose is to encourage authors to continue to produce high-quality research in marketing and public policy.

The award honors articles published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing that have made a significant contribution to the understanding of marketing and public policy issues within the past three years (2006-2008). From a list of all eligible articles, a committee comprised of the journal’s associate editors nominated articles for consideration. Then, from the articles that received the greatest number of nominations, Editorial Review Board members selected one article that was most deserving of the award.

Moore and Rideout will receive the honor during the American Marketing Association's 2010 Winter Marketing Educators' Conference to be held February 19-22, at the Sheraton New Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana.

For more information about the study, contact Elizabeth Moore, (574) 631-6263 or