America's Association of National Advertisers has hit back at a proposal to limit junk food ads to audiences under the age of eighteen, trashing the plan as "ridiculous and shocking."

The broadside was fired in response to proposed food marketing guidelines presented last week to TV networks, movie studios and food marketers by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

New marketing limits are necessary, the CSPI argues, because the amount of the advertising targeting children has dramatically increased. Nor do the ad industry's self-regulatory efforts go far enough.

The guidelines include …

  • No ads for nutritionally poor food choices on TV shows that have more than a quarter of the audience under age 18;

  • No product or brand placement for such foods in media aimed at children, including movies, TV and websites;

  • No toys, points, club memberships or apparel with food or meals emblazoned on them that don't meet certain nutritional standards;

  • No games tied to marketers' websites, unless the games were promoting nutritional products;

  • No movie or cartoon characters or celebrities would be licensed to use in ads or on packaging for children's products that don't meet nutritional standards.
ANA executive vice president Dan Jaffe accused: "They [the CSPI] are infantilizing everyone up to the age of eighteen." He he followed through with an awesome non sequitur, pointing out that the proposed restrictions would deprive America's youth of receiving advertising messages, even though some are old enough to drive.

Response from the Grocery Manufacturers of America was more measured, acknowledging the problems of childhood obesity, while insisting that its members are committed to responsible marketing. But it disputes the CSPI's charge that child-targeted marketing has increased.

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff