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foodwatch criticizes influencer marketing for being unhealthy 

foodwatch criticizes influencer marketing for being unhealthy 

The consumer organization foodwatch has criticized influencer advertising for sugar bombs and greasy snacks. Companies such as McDonald's, Pizza Hut and Coca-Cola specifically used social media stars for their marketing, who enjoy a particularly high level of trust among children and young people. In cooperation with the influencers, the companies, for example, created special editions of their products, organized expensive events and trips and unobtrusively launched brand advertising on their channels. foodwatch warned that this junkfluencer marketing was promoting malnutrition and obesity among adolescents.

“Influencers are both idols and best friends for millions of young people. The social media stars are the perfect advertising ambassadors for the junk food companies to sell more and more sugar bombs and greasy snacks - bypassing parental control directly via the smartphones of children and young people."said Luise Molling from foodwatch.

The consumer organization called for young people to be better protected from junk food marketing on the Internet: Influencers should only be allowed to advertise balanced products. Federal Food Minister Cem Özdemir wants to introduce advertising barriers to protect children. Among other things, advertising for unbalanced foods on TV should generally be prohibited in the evenings and on weekends, when a particularly large number of children use media. Foodwatch demanded that this regulation must be extended to the area of ​​social media. Instagram posts or Tiktok videos that can be accessed around the clock should only contain advertising for balanced products. Because of the FDP's resistance, Özdemir's plans are in danger of being watered down further, foodwatch warned. However, in order to effectively protect children and young people from junk food advertising, the draft law would have to be tightened up in some areas, the consumer organization demanded.

The “junkfluencer strategies” of the food industry

Food companies are currently using three main strategies on social media to boost sales of their products:

  • Product collaborations: Companies work with social media influencers to launch separate product lines. McDonald's launched the “McFlurry Shirin” with the likeness of the singer and social media icon Shirin David. Beauty influencer “Julia Beautx” has allegedly created her own donut for Kaufland. And Lipton released a special edition designed and marketed by queer musician and influencer “Twenty4tim” with more than eleven million cans.
  • Travel and events: Big parties, exciting trips, breathtaking challenges – companies are coming up with more and more ideas to win influencers as advertising ambassadors. Coca-Cola gave the Swedish influencer Lotta Stichler a trip to Lapland so that she could advertise there in a Christmas snowy setting. Fanta and McDonald's redesigned a McDonald's branch for Halloween so that the influencer Max Müller ("Max Echtso") could advertise the Halloween menu there with spooky content. And at the same time, the Fanta “Holoween” bus was stationed in Berlin, where Fabian Busch (“Iamzuckerpuppe”), who is popular with teenagers, appeared apparently spontaneously and made a video. Red Bull also likes to use events as a social media advertising backdrop: the energy drink manufacturer invited several influencers and gamers to the “Games on a Plane” event.
  • “Hidden” advertising: The companies mix their advertising videos camouflaged with the influencers' usual content in order to give them more credibility and achieve more reach. “MinimaLara”, known for her vegan recipe tips, posted a video in the usual setting in which she prepared Choco Crossies from vegan Ritter Sport chocolate. Maxine Reuker, who often appears in romantic togetherness with her boyfriend, can be seen with her boyfriend at a cozy autumn picnic with pizza from Pizza Hut. And the influencer Aaron Troschke posts one of his many challenges, this time tasting Pepsi blindly with another influencer.

“With increasingly perfidious strategies, the food industry is succeeding in presenting the constant consumption of sugary drinks and greasy snacks as the everyday normality of young social media stars and at the same time increasingly merging editorial and advertising content.”, explained Luise Molling from foodwatch.

Food advertising has been proven to influence the nutritional behavior of young people. Children eat more than twice as much sweets but only half as many fruits and vegetables as recommended. According to the most recent representative measurements, around 15 percent of children and young people are overweight and six percent are even severely overweight (obesity). You are at risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, joint problems, high blood pressure and heart disease later in life. According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), one in seven deaths in Germany can be attributed to an unhealthy diet.   

Sources and further information:

Photo / Video: foodwatch eV.

Written by Option

Option is an idealistic, fully independent and global social media platform on sustainability and civil society, founded in 2014 by Helmut Melzer. Together we show positive alternatives in all areas and support meaningful innovations and forward-looking ideas - constructive-critical, optimistic, down to earth. The option community is dedicated exclusively to relevant news and documents the significant progress made by our society.

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