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Children's shield pledge likely to hit kids channels
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Advertising revenues for the six television channels for children are under threat, with food and beverage majors such as Hindustan Unilever (HUL), Kellogg, Coca-Cola, Cadbury’s, Pepsico, Mars and Nestle pledging to refrain from advertising products to children below 12 years.

These seven companies, say media experts, constitute 15- 20 per cent of the Rs 500-600 crore advertising kitty pumped in by corporate firms into kids’ channels.

Under the outlined standards, signatories to the pledge will not advertise products which do not conform to national and international dietary guidelines to media audiences where at least half are children under the age of 12. The kids’ TV channels - these include Disney, which has three, Cartoon Network, Pogo and Nick declined to respond to the queries on the impact of the decision on their ad revenues.

But companies say, off the record, that they are rethinking and might come out with a solution. Sources at HUL say the pledge pertains to inculcating healthy dietary habits in children. “So, it is the category of food and food-related advertising which will get affected, not allied categories such as detergents, toothpastes and shampoos,” the source points out. Nestle sources admit that they are reviewing their advertising policy on kids channels.

Media experts say the impact could be adverse on these channels. Says Anita Nayyar, CEO, India and South Asia, Havas Media, “There will undoubtedly be a change in media plan for those who advertise heavily on kids channels. A lot of FMCG advertising happens on kids channels because of the dual viewership of these. With the pledge in place, the money allocated for advertising on these channels may now be offloaded onto general entertainment channels, below-the-line activities, the online media, etc.”

A similar view is echoed by Vikram Sakhuja, CEO, South Asia, Group M, whose Mindshare unit manages the HUL media business, “Companies will review their media plan brand-wise, on the basis of which they would decide which channels to advertise on. Most marketing managers want to utilise the budgets allocated to them. So if one avenue closes, there are others available.”

Others, however, feel since children watch such channels along with their mothers, categories such as detergents, toothpastes and shampoos will continue to be marketed on these platforms. Farokh Balsara, India head of the media and entertainment sector at Ernst and Young, held: “Advertisements for products aired on kids’ entertainment channels which are meant for parents as well will remain unaffected. Colas are not marketed on kids’ channels even now. Ads for health drinks and energy drinks will continue to feature, so the impact may not be that significant.”

Industry sources insist companies whose media plans will be affected on account of the pledge are HUL, Nestle and Kelloggs. All three companies use these channels to target kids.

According to media agency estimates, of Nestle’s Rs 100 crore advertising budget, 20 per cent is spent on these channels. Kelloggs utilises about 25 per cent of its Rs 40-crore ad budget here, while HUL has products such as Knorr Soupy Noodles advertised on kids channels, besides products such as Surf Excel and Pepsodent.

Source: Business Standard

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