According to the BEUC, cartoon characters are a “powerful and persuasive marketing method to target children”, noting they are almost always used to promote unhealthy foods.
The BEUC’s members conducted a survey focusing on brand mascots in 13 countries. Out of over 100 examples, they found only one child-friendly character had been used to promote a fruit or vegetable.
“Children are unable to distinguish between advertising and entertainment. This is something that marketers have understood, but children’s health should come before profits,” the BEUC’s Director General Monique Goyens said, adding that characters that promote low nutrient foods only make it harder for parents to ensure their children have healthy diets.
Goyens urged national governments to pressure food manufacturers to use cartoon characters more responsibly. From their side, food companies should demonstrate a “serious commitment” to protecting children by removing these cartoons from unhealthy foods”, the chief BEUC said.