Soda advertising bubbling up

A picture taken on Sept. 8, 2011 in Paris shows cans of various sodas.

Kai Ryssdal: You know how there's been this big push the past couple of years to clean up ads directed at children, mostly about junk food and sugary drinks? Well, there's a new study (PDF) out about those drinks. Researchers at Yale say kids are actually seeing more ads for that stuff than they used to. It's a pattern that's especially true for black and Hispanic children and teenagers.

Marketplace's David Gura has that story.


David Gura: The researchers used data from The Nielsen Company. They discovered black children and teenagers saw 80 to 90 percent more ads for sugary drinks than white children and teenagers.

Researcher Marlene Schwartz says to keep something in mind.

Marlene Schwartz: Black children and teens do watch more television than average white children and teens.

But she says that can't explain everything.

Schwartz: That suggests to us that these companies have deliberately chosen to place their ads in media where they know that black children and teenagers will be watching.

They've also targeted another demographic.

Schwartz: We found that Hispanic children saw 49 percent more ads for sugary drinks and energy drinks, and the teens saw 99 percent more ads.

A lot of those were on Spanish-language TV and radio stations. Advertisers also use games and other gimmicks on the Internet. The American Beverage Association said in a statement that drink makers advertise "only water, juice and milk on programming for children under 12."

Susan Linn: Um, that's actually not true.

Susan Linn heads the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Linn: When it comes to marketing sugary beverages to children, self-regulation just doesn't work.

Advertising is limited on children's shows, but Marlene Schwartz says only half the ads kids see are on those programs. "Family shows" are fair game. Just look at "American Idol," sponsored by Coca-Cola. The judges have giant red cups with the Coke logo. It's not a kids' show, but plenty of children watch it.

I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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