Do online ad breaks clearly tell kids that advergames are advertisements that intend to sell things?

Soontae An

Ewha Womans University

Hannah Kang

University of Florida

Introduction

Pervasive food marketing towards children highlights the growing concern over childhood obesity in the United States. As research reveals a link between food marketing and children’s dietary behaviour (Gorn & Goldberg 1982; Bolton 1983; Borzekowski & Robinson 2001; Institute of Medicine of the National Academies 2006; Gantz et al. 2007), the most heavily advertised food categories include carbonated beverages and fast-food restaurants (Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 2008, 2012). In 2009, the fast-food industry spent more than $4.2 billion on advertising (Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity 2010). Advertising for high-calorie and low-nutrition foods is aggressively targeting young children, particularly through advergames on the internet. McDonald’s and Burger King provided websites with 60 to 100 pages of advergames; McDonald’s websites, for example, attracted 365,000 unique young visitors on average each month in 2009 (Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity 2010).