On October 19, 2022, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission held a forum titled “Protecting Kids from Stealth Advertising in Digital Media” to discuss ever-growing concerns over advertising to youth, particularly in the digital landscape. This issue is one that affects many industries, including the food and beverage industry. Indeed, there is a program administered by BBB National Programs—the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative—that is specifically designed for the marketing of food and beverage products to children.

Shook Partners Lindsey K. Heinz and Madison M. Hatten reported on the FTC forum in FTC Discusses Growing Concerns Over Digital Advertising to Youth, an article in JD Supra. In this article, they lay out the regulatory landscape that applies when marketing products to youth and report on the specific issues raised at the FTC forum. Heinz had this takeaway from the forum: “The clear message is that the FTC is concerned about the rapidly-evolving digital landscape, and the accompanying privacy issues, particularly with respect to interactive games. Children already lack the cognitive abilities to distinguish what is and is not marketing in certain settings—these realities are simply amplified in the digital space.”

Partner Madison Hatten agreed and pointed out that some unique solutions were discussed, including mandatory disclosures. “There is a big question whether mandatory disclosure of commercial content is consistent with the First Amendment. That will be a big hurdle for regulators to overcome if they proceed down that path,” said Hatten. The public will have until November 18, 2022, to submit comments on the topics discussed.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.