Advertising Age Magazine reports that the Federal Trade Commission is once again handing out subpoenas to companies that market food to children and teens.
Three years after initially delivering what is technically known as “orders to file special report” to 44 marketers, the FTC last week began sending subpoenas to 48 companies in order to prepare a follow-up to its 120-page report issued in 2008, “Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents: A Review of Industry Expenditures, Activities and Self-Regulation.”
“This is a follow-up to measure the effects that self-regulation has had over the last three years,” said Carol Jennings, spokeswoman for the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices/Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We are supportive of industry voluntary efforts to limit their marketing to kids and this will see whether more is needed.”
Ms. Jennings said the findings will be made available to the public.
A handful of marketers that received subpoenas in 2007 were left off the 2010 list, (Dunkin’ Brands was not on the 2010 list) presumably because they have limited their marketing to children. Twelve companies on this year’s list are new, but 36 companies are once again receiving subpoenas — including Yum Brands, which was called out by FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz in a December 2009 speech in which he said, “Many companies that market heavily to children and teens have yet to join or make a commitment. Why, for instance, hasn’t Yum Brands, with its KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut chains, stepped up? Or Chuck E. Cheese and IHOP? Or the marketers of Air Heads and Baby Bottle Pops?”
Calls to Yum Brands were not returned. A spokeswoman for CEC Entertainment, parent company of Chuck E. Cheese, said she could not comment without having seen the subpoena.
Some have speculated that the new round of subpoenas was a prelude to Congressional hearings and possible legislation, but Ms. Jennings refuted that.
“We are not proposing any regulation,” she said.
Anthony DiResta, an attorney specializing in advertising, marketing and media at Washington firm Manatt Phelps & Phillip, agreed with Ms. Jennings and said he did not see legislation in the future.