Unilever will stop advertising ice-cream to children under 12

Owner of Magnum and Twister announces 15-point plan to improve responsibility of marketing activity.

Unilever: Wall's Kids brands include Twister
Unilever: Wall's Kids brands include Twister

Unilever has said it will no longer market directly to children under 12 after 2020, as part of a raft of measures it said were influenced by the serious public-health issues posed by rising childhood obesity levels.

The FMCG giant has created a 15-point plan to ensure its products were "responsibly communicated", "responsibly sold" and "responsibly developed".

Unilever said it would not direct marketing communications to children under 12, meaning it would avoid media in which children under 12 represent more than 25% of the audience – the same principle used by the UK Advertising Standards Authority. For digital platforms, including social media, the age will be 13. It will also not use any creative executions designed to appeal to children under 12.

The company added that it would broadly avoid advertising in or sponsoring films, promoting products in programmes, offering gifts and toys, or using licensed characters (including cartoons) that appeal to children under 12. It will also avoid using influencers who are either under 12 or appeal to kids that age. 

Alongside this, Unilever will launch a "Responsibly made for kids" logo, to be used to identify products that are designed for children – these will have a maximum of 110 calories and 12g of sugar per portion. The first brand to receive the logo, which will feature on packaging and point-of-sale materials, will be ice-cream division Wall’s Kids, which includes the likes of Twister and Calippo.

Unilever has set a deadline of 31 December 2020 for its marketers and agency to comply with the new rules, and is providing mandatory training.

Matt Close, executive vice-president, global ice-cream category, at Unilever, said: "We at Wall’s believe that everyone deserves a little joyous treat from time to time and we strive to offer something for everyone. Our promise is a genuine commitment to make and market products to children responsibly. It is the promise of better ice-cream and healthier, happier children. Both now and in the future."

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