In 2003, Unilever was one of the first companies to apply its own principles to the company’s marketing and advertising strategy. This framework also provides guidance to brand managers working on HUL brands and are reviewed regularly.
The guiding principles ensure that the brand marketing communication is appropriate. For example, in the light of obesity issues, we avoid showing over-sized portions in our advertisements. Our marketing collaterals must exclude anything that undermines the promotion of healthy, balanced diets and healthy, active lifestyles, or misrepresents snacks as meals. We don’t use 'size zero' models or actors in our advertising to make sure it does not promote 'unhealthy' slimness.
See Unilever's Global Principles for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing:
We have committed to voluntarily restrict all marketing communications directed primarily to children under the age of six. We applied this measure based on increasing evidence showing that children under six do not have the cognitive ability to distinguish between advertising/marketing and programming.
For children under 12 years of age, research has also shown that marketing and advertising can influence their purchasing behaviour and short-term eating habits. So, we restrict marketing and advertising to children from the ages of six to under 12 for all products except those that meet:
- Our Highest Nutritional Standards, or
- Any common industry criteria we are committed to, such as in the India Pledge, and
- Any criteria set by public authorities
The ‘India Policy on Marketing Communications to Children’ commits to change food and beverage marketing communications to children under the age of 12 years in India. Member companies, as part of their global commitments, are already in the process of adopting specific voluntary policies that go beyond the Food and Beverage Alliance of India (FBAI) policy. These voluntary measures are in support of parental efforts to promote active and safe lifestyles.
FBAI member commit either to:
- Only advertise products to children under the age of 12 years that meet FBAI Common Nutrition Criteria (CNC); or
- Not to advertise their products at all to children under the age of 12 years.
The India Policy on Marketing Communications to children has been in effect from 31 December 2016, and the FBAI Common Nutrition Criteria has been effective from 31 December 2017.
In February 2020, we updated our industry-leading principles on marketing to children (PDF | 2MB) which will be effective from 31st December 2020. These apply to all food and beverages products, and their implementation is led by Unilever’s ice cream business. Highlights include:
- We will stop all marketing communications to children under 12 years of age on traditional media like TV and radio, and to under 13 on social media. Previously, we still allowed Marketing Communications for products that meet our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS).
- For our measured media channels, we are also decreasing the audience representation (children aged under 12) from 35% to 25%.
- We will stop the use of influencers who are under the age of 12 themselves, and we will also not use influencers who appeal to kids under the age of 12. This is a new principle.
- We’re limiting the use of characters like cartoons and brand-equity characters to Point of Sale Communications, and only if they meet our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS). Previously, we allowed this also in marketing communications.
- We’re limiting the use of gifts, toys, premiums, and giveaways to kids under 12 to our Point of Sale Communications, and only if the product they are linked to complies with our Highest Nutritional Standards. These gifts, toys, premiums and giveaways must also have an educational purpose or health messaging.
- We will not permit Marketing Communications of our brands and products in primary and secondary schools. Previously, this was limited to primary schools only.
- We have clear definitions of ‘Marketing Communications’ and ‘Point of Sale Communications’. Our Marketing Communications include both, appeal and placement. Our Point of Sale Communications are important to help parents and caregivers select products that are suitable for children at the point of sale.