Friday, October 12, 2007

BK not meeting kids advertising pledge yet

I received an e-mail from Burger King today regarding my article below. My sincerest apologies to Burger King for making a critical error in reading their "Corporate Pledge" regarding advertising to children and healthy Kid's Meals for children.

I misread the date that the pledge is to begin. It is not for over a year: December 31, 2008.

The thrust of my article was that their pledge to consumers would begin fairly soon. This is not the case. it is 14 months away.

I am still concerned that Burger King is marketing 840 calorie Kid's Meals directly to children via their web site, but they certainly have not broken their promise or violated their pledge. At least Burger King has made a pledge to improve this in the future. That's more than most other fast food restaurant chains have done.

Here is the complete text of the e-mail I received from Burger King:

Dear Fast Food News:
As a spokesperson for the Burger King Corporation, I wanted to provide clarification regarding your post on our timeline for enacting our advertising pledge. If you refer to our Pledge, you’ll see that we’ve actually committed to updating our Kids Meals and limiting our advertising by December 31, 2008 (not January 1, 2008, as you state).

We are fully committed to taking positive steps to provide children with new and innovative food and beverage products that will provide more nutritionally balanced menu options for kids. But developing and distributing new products to thousands of Burger King restaurants across the country is a complex, multi-step process that can take months. That said, we are moving as quickly as possible and hope that we are able to meet that deadline even sooner, but want to make sure that we do it right. The January 1, 2008 date that you refer to is our commitment date for limiting advertising in schools, as well as limiting product placements in movies and other such media. While this commitment is part of our overall Pledge, it’s logistically easier for us to implement, and therefore we were able to set a more aggressive timeline for it.

I hope this helps clarify our timeline and reassures you that we are taking our pledge seriously. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Keva Silversmith
Corporate Communications
Burger King Corporation

Burger King announced their highly detailed pledge on marketing to children on September 7, 2007. The pledge is set to take effect in 79 days 444 days, on January 1, 2008 December 31, 2008.

They aren't there yet.

They've violated at least three of the five nutritional standards they set up for themselves in a new ad campaign.

On their new "Viva Pinata" web site, Burger King makes it clear that the site is aimed at kids and that it is advertising:

One of the features of the site allows kids to build their own kid's meal with standard items on the BK Kid's meal menu. This menu includes more healthy items like applesauce, milk and apple juice, but it also includes a double cheeseburger, Coca-Cola and fries.

Taken directly from Burger King's pledge: "the Kids Meal (consisting of an entrée, side dish and beverage) advertised in our National Advertising will provide, in total:
  • No more than 560 calories per meal;
  • Less than 30 percent of calories from fat;
  • No more than 10 percent of calories from added sugars."
"...all food pages of our company- owned websites that are primarily directed to children under 12 years old will be for Kids Meals that meet the Burger King Corporation Nutrition Criteria."

So let's take a look at one of the Kid's Meal options advertised on the Viva Pinata site (pictured below, left):
Double cheeseburger, small, salted fries, and a kid's Coca Cola. 840 calories, 378 calories from fat, (that's 45% of calories from fat*), 42 grams of fat, 87 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams sugars (that's 144 calories from sugars which is 17% of total calories*), 1410 mg sodium, 32 grams protein, 3 grams fiber.
840 calories is 280 calories over their pledged future limit of 560.
45% of calories from fat is 15% more than their pledged future limit of 30%.
17% of calories from sugars is 7% more than their pledged future limit of 10%

Even the 'healthy' Kid's Meal (that is the default combination on the website) doesn't meet all the guidelines of Burger King's future pledge.

The 'healthy' Kid's Meal (pictured above, right) consists of a four-piece Crown-shaped chicken tenders, Mott's strawberry-flavored applesauce, and Hershey's 1% lowfat milk It has 370 calories, 112 calories from fat (30% of calories from fat*), 47 grams carbs, 33 grams sugars (which is 35% of calories from sugars*), 610 mg sodium, 17 grams protein.

Burger King meets the total calorie limit of the guidelines with this meal and is right on the line with their percent of calories from fat, but 35% of calories from sugars exceeds their future pledge guidelines by 20%.

Sure, these meals are no worse than kid's meals offered by other fast food restaurants, but Burger King has promoted their pledge to parents about advertising food to their children.

What will they come up with in the next 79 444 days to meet the standards they've set forth for themselves?

Could the main thrust of this ad campaign be to remind kids of that double-cheeseburger they can get in their Kid's Meal even after January 1, 2008 when they won't be advertising it anymore?

We'll be watching.

Percent calories from fat: grams of fat multiplied by 9 for calories from fat, then divided by total calories for percentage (based on standard 9 calories per fat gram).
Percent calories from sugars: grams of sugars multiplied by 4 calories for calories from sugars, then divided by total calories for percentage (based on standard 4 calories per gram sugars).

1 comment:

Emily said...

I agree with Burger King's pledge
it has been providing good calorie foods for Kids