Masterfoods, makers of childhood favourites Mars, Maltesers and Milky Way have announced a phased withdrawal of their mainstream advertising to under 12’s. They’ll still advertise, and they have a new ‘healthier’ range that they’ll target at children over 9, but no more adverts, competitions, games or adverts for pre-teens.
Yes, that probably means that I’d never have amassed my collection of free Wade Whimsey animals by sending off wrappers, but would I still have amassed a collection of cavities?
Cynicism tends to take over when an international corporation makes an announcement to stop advertising, or stop supplying profitable lines. Masterfoods explain that they have taken this decision in line with customer feedback. Detractors claim that they made the decision to avoid government legislation.
In the UK chocolate manufacturers were perhaps forerunners of the Corporate Social Responsibility movement, ensuring decent housing and leisure for employees, keeping vices such as alcohol and gambling away from workers, yet when Cadbury’s acquired Green & Black’s chocolate there was grumbling that the ethics had gone from chocolate.
An increasing group of informed and vocal customers want to know that they are dealing with organisations that share their values, or even have values that they can aspire to. Innocent Drinks have built their premium juice business on being nice, fun people who like what they do and care about customers. It seems to be working well. Enron produced gloss literature explaining that their core values included Integrity. That didn’t work so well for them, maybe because it wasn’t true.
Having values isn’t just about publicising them it’s about believing in them, holding people to account on them, and making sure they are part of everyday life.
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