Government Report: July 19, 2007


AAF President Says Industry Has Responded Positively and Aggressively to Improve Its Self-Regulation of Children's Advertising
American Advertising Federation President and CEO Wally Snyder praised the commitment of the advertising industry on its aggressive self-regulation efforts and the positive work of the Children's Advertising Review Unit at a workshop entitled "Weighing In: A Check-Up on Marketing, Self-Regulation and Childhood Obesity," sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services. The workshop was held as a follow-up to the 2005 FTC/HHS forum on marketing, self-regulation and childhood obesity. Last year, the National Advertising Review Council completed a comprehensive review of CARU. This evaluation led to changes in the CARU guidelines, such as requiring food to be shown in the context of a balanced meal rather than a balanced diet, as well as the development of a new children's food and beverage initiative. FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras praised the work done by the food and advertising industries toward combating childhood obesity, noting that "industry action can bring change more quickly and effectively than government regulation of speech." To read Wally Snyder's complete statement, click here.
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Food and Beverage Companies Announce Voluntary Advertising Restrictions
At the same obesity workshop, 11 companies comprising the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative announced pledges to focus their advertising directed to children under 12 on products meeting better-for-you nutrition standards or refrain from advertising to children entirely. The companies—Cadbury Adams USA LLC; Campbell Soup Company; the Coca-Cola Company; General Mills, Inc.; the Hershey Company; Kellogg Company; Kraft Foods Inc.; Mars, Inc.; McDonald's USA, LLC; PepsiCo, Inc.; and Unilever United States—accounted for roughly two-thirds of televised food and beverage advertising expenditures in 2004. All of the companies will restrict using third-party licensed characters to products meeting nutritional criteria and Web sites promoting healthy lifestyles. The Council of Better Business Bureaus, which oversees the initiative, will monitor the companies' advertising to ensure compliance with the pledges. Specific details on each of the company pledges are available here.
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Senate Health Committee to Consider FDA Tobacco Regulation Bill
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will consider a bill next week that would authorize the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products and impose harsh restrictions on tobacco advertising. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (S. 625), introduced by HELP Committee Chairman Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., would direct the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to publish an interim rule with sweeping restrictions resulting in a de facto ban on tobacco advertising. Additionally, the bill would allow labeling requirements on tobacco ads and grant state and local governments authority to impose "specific bans or restrictions on the time, place and manner" of tobacco ads. The AAF opposes the marketing restrictions offered in the bill but takes no position on the proposal that would generally grant the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products. To view a copy of a letter sent by the AAF and other advertising groups, click here.
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House Committee Approves Restrictions on Social Security Number Use
The House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill that would impose new restrictions on the use of Social Security numbers in order to prevent identity theft. The bill, introduced by Rep. Michael McNulty, D-N.Y., would prohibit the sale, purchase or public display of the numbers by any company or government agency, including direct-marketing firms. The numbers could be used for financial or law enforcement purposes. Violators of the measure could face fines reaching $250,000 or up to five years in prison. A similar bill was approved by the committee in 2004 but was not voted on by the House.
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