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The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) will propose today “tighter voluntary restrictions on ads aimed at children,” which the paper says is “the industry's latest effort to stave off legislation and government regulation of advertising aimed at young consumers.”

According to the WSJ, “among the proposals are ways to crack down on product placement in TV shows, the use of licensed characters in ads and food-packaging, and ‘advergaming,’ the practice of larding online games with brands of candy, soft drinks and cereal.”

However, the report also says that GMA will not propose creating nutritional standards for children’s products.

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who has introduced legislation calling for national standards covering child-oriented advertising, said that while he is looking forward to reading the GMA proposal, the problem is that they are voluntary and “have no teeth, no enforcement mechanisms.”

About $12 billion is spent each year advertising products to children.
KC's View:
We think that the food industry ought to be given a set period of time to prove that it can make voluntary standards work. But GMA and its member companies ought to know that if they don’t reach a certain level of implementation, the government will consider stepping in.

By the way, we think that retailers should be on the side of the consumer on this issue, not the side of manufacturers.