It's no secret that kids are defenseless against toy prizes in kids meals and ads that lure them in for greasy burgers, chicken nuggets and French fries. In the last few years, fast-food companies have been pledging to clean up their act when it comes to advertising to children.
But those promises are falling flat, according to a new study that found that fast-food ads aimed at children are still full of cartoon characters, movie references and enticements about toy giveaways.
"Advertisers use images of toy premiums, music, and movie characters to associate their product with excitement, energy, and fun," said lead researcher Jim Sargent, co-director of the Cancer Control Program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, in a press release.
"They emphasize recognition of the brand, the packaging and the restaurant, with little emphasis on the food products sold there. This heavy dose of branding serves to help a child recognize the storefront of a fast food chain from the backseat and pester their parents to stop for a meal that features the latest superhero."