Making a dog’s dinner out of children’s advertising

Posted By


Someone once told me that a high-pitched whistle (undetectable to the human ear) is sometimes used in dog food adverts, as a way of sneakily grabbing the pooch’s attention. While the dog stands slobbering, wet nose to TV screen, the owner is convinced that their beloved pet is trying to tell them something.

Now, I’m not one for getting over-sentimental about dogs (more a cat woman myself), or raising a placard to fight for the moral rights of our canine friends, but you do have to question tactics that are duping consumers – not to mention the poor dogs!

Ofcom clearly keeps a watchful eye on how companies capture the attention of end-users, but it seems the World Health Organisation (WHO) has joined the debate today, with the publication of a report on marketing junk food to kids. Apparently, Denmark, France, Norway, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, have all got it covered – the UK, on the other hand, has done well, but not well enough.

Thanks to existing legislation, chicken nuggets and chips no longer grace our screens during children’s television programmes. However, WHO has argued that children are still being subjected to adverts promoting foods high in fat, salt and sugar, during programmes like Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor. What’s more, regulations don’t prevent them from reaching easily-influenced minds through computer games, mobile phones and social networks, such as Facebook.

Unsurprisingly, the brands have come out in force to defend themselves, taking the opportunity to highlight the healthy living and educational programmes that they so wholeheartedly support. However, it’s likely that the WHO report will force a few people to pull up their socks, not to mention a complete strategic re-think. As more advertising doors shut on companies, it’ll be interesting to see how and where they market their products in future. Dog whistles at the ready!