Marketing & advertising

Framework for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing Communications 2019

  • 30 August 2019

Framework for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing Communications 2019

This framework should be read against the background of three intertwined issues: the role of commercial communication in our information-focused society, responsible marketing to children, and the importance of marketing to a competitive economy and consumer choice.

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1/ The role of marketing communications in an information-focused society

Responsible marketing communications can assist consumers in making appropriate choices about food and beverage products, and in understanding the role of nutrition, diet and physical activity in healthy lifestyles. By conveying marketing communication consistent with principles of good nutrition, diet, physical activity and personal choice, business must play an important role.
Good communication, and indeed good business practice, means that marketers must remain mindful of the need to provide honest and truthful information about their products, both to make the consumer aware of the choices available and to enable one to choose among them according to one’s needs, desires, tastes and personal priorities.

2/Responsible marketing to children

As children are consumers of food and beverages, they are legitimately a focus of marketing and have the right to information about the products that interest them. However, because of their lack of experience as consumers, children deserve especially careful treatment by marketers in any marketing communications directed to them. ICC recognizes that children constitute an audience with a more limited capacity to assess information in marketing communications, which is why specific provisions on marketing communications to children are included in ICC guidelines and codes.

Marketers must promote and sell their products to children in a responsible manner. ICC remains mindful, however, that parents and other adults responsible for a child’s welfare play a primary role in the broad range of decisions affecting their children, including choices about diet, physical activity and health. Moreover, parents, educators, the media, entertainment content providers and others have important roles in helping children develop a critical understanding of marketing communications and other media messages so that they become better informed.

3/ The importance of marketing to a competitive economy and consumer choice

As with all guidance issued by the ICC Marketing and Advertising Commission, this Framework for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing Communications is predicated on the principle that freedom of commercial speech in the sale of all legal products is a fundamental tenet for markets that promote innovation and competition, thus benefitting consumers by giving them more choices and efficient pricing. Advertising promotes economic development, supports consumer choice, and leads companies to compete to provide consumers with products that reflect their interests and concerns.
At the same time, the global business community is keenly aware that the proper functioning of a market economy depends on consumers receiving accurate and non-misleading information about products and responsible use of marketing communications is primordial to the ICC position. Consequently, the goal of this framework is to provide added guidance for self-regulation to help those developing food and beverage marketing communications apply the rules effectively and responsibly to their campaigns.