Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How fast food companies targets children and teens


Children are exposed to fast food marketing techniques through various forms of advertisements such as TV, the Internet, mobile phones, billboards and many others. Successful fast food companies target children with fun messages such as kid’s meal promotions and popular toy action figures. They use positive words such as “fun” and “cool.” Fast food companies often link these words with well known cartoons. On the Internet, kids can play in virtual games provided on the fast food chain website. The
child-targeted sites are visited just as often as their own webpage. They promote the brand instead of showing their food. If they show food on their page, the company website displays their healthier menu items. McDonalds, Burger King and Subway are the top 3 fast food companies who target children directly.

Children are attracted to the restaurant with advertisements that appeal to them. The number one restaurant children prefer to go to is McDonalds. When they arrive at McDonalds, they prefer to consume the unhealthier options such as soft drinks and fries. It is estimated that on average, preschoolers watch 3 daily ads pertaining to fast food. In 2006, Better Business Bureau created a policy program that prohibits companies to advertise unhealthy foods to youth less than 12 years old. Some companies have implemented this into their company policies. Others have modified this policy to define their own “better for you” standards. In 2014, companies will implement nutritional standards in their policy.


When the fast food companies target teens, companies promote celebrities and implement humoristic marketing strategies in their advertisements. Being exposed to fast food marketing is a part of their life through billboards, school scoreboards, vending machines, and grocery store shelves. The snack items are commonly promoted towards teens. Sonic and Subway are examples of fast food companies whose ads target teens by promoting their lunch/dinner items. Teens get exposed trough their phones, word of mouth, social media and are exposed to product placement through video games, TV shows, and movies. The average teen watched about 5 fast food ads each day.

When measuring the effectiveness of the advertisement, teenagers purchase high-caloric menu items that contain no nutritional value. According to only 5% choose the healthier options at fast food restaurants. Teens purchase more snack items than any other age group. 75% of the teens order the larger sized hamburgers and 25% order large or extra large soft drinks and fries.


  1. Why do you think so many fast food restaurants, especially McDonalds, promote so heavily on children when they know it is severely unhealthy for not only their health but their future as well?

  2. That is a good question. The reason why they promote so heavily on children is because children are very persuasive so they get the parents to take them or the whole family if they have siblings. McDonalds create brand loyalty with their websites and offering happy meals that directly targets children.
    The negative side of eating there is the unhealthy food children consume. I don't think fast food restaurants focus enough on this aspect. They offer healthy food, but it is not a popular choice among children. The children don't know how much the food affects them and are not old enough to realize it. The fast food industry needs to change and parents need to be stronger and say no more often. There are many other good healthy choices that should be picked instead.