PepsiCo, the planet's number two manufacturer of soft drinks and bigtime marketer of snackfoods, has for "several months" not advertised its flagship Pepsi and Cheetos brands to children - the former to under-twelves, the latter to those below the age of eight.

In a PR offensive directed at the Financial Times and other influential newspapers, PepsiCo confirmed its [until now] low profile cessation of advertising to younger age groups, a move that contrasts to the very public announcement made in January by Kraft Foods [WAMN: 13-Jan-05].

The decisions by these multinational behemoths are seen in many quarters as pre-emptive strikes against threats by the European Commission to impose mandatory curbs.

Many argue that PepsiCo and Kraft are ceding a centimetre to gain a kilometre - and other manufacturers are thought certain to follow suit.

Says Irene Rosenfeld, ceo of PepsiCo snacks unit Frito-Lay North America, her halo worn at a jaunty angle: "Our intent is not to just beat our chests and try to take credit for what we're doing. We're just quietly doing it because it's the right thing to do."

And Mike White, ceo of PepsiCo's international division, toed the ad industry partyline, insisting that the most effective way to reduce childhood obesity is not to curtail advertising but to reduce time spent by kids in front of TV and computer screens and provide them with more exercise opportunities.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff