Coles Little Shop named most painful
NESTLE has taken out the gong for a "misleading children's campaign" at an annual awards event exposing the worst of junk food marketing.
Stealing the crown from last year's "winner" Kellogg's, the world's largest food and beverage company took out the Smoke and Mirrors category at the 14th national Parents' Voice Fame and Shame Awards in Victoria today.
Nestle was pulled up for its campaign calling on children to "add more to milk" with MILO, failing to mention it contained 9g of added sugar.
Nestlé nutritionist Megan Nader told news.com.au Milo does contain some sugar, "although some is naturally occurring and it is not all added."
"Its main role is to support kids' meeting dairy and nutrient intakes by adding extra calcium, protein, iron and vitamin D to a glass of milk," she said.
And, despite its huge popularity, it was the Coles Little Shop campaign that claimed the Pester Power award for featuring products that appeal to children such as Nutella, Tim Tam and Oak chocolate milk.
Nicole French, a parent member of Parents' Voice, said that the level of pestering the Little Shop campaign encouraged in children was almost unprecedented.
"Through play with these products, our children learn unhealthy habits that may last a lifetime," Ms French said.
But Coles said it was "blown away with customer engagement and feedback to Little Shop".
"They told us it made them excited to shop and it appealed to customers of all ages. Whether they were collecting for themselves, their family members, neighbours or work colleagues, "Little Shop brought people together and they had a lot of fun with it," the spokeswoman said.
"We saw schools using them as teaching aids, they were being used as fun accessories, and we're even hearing that customers will be using them as elves on shelves this Christmas."
McDonald's also copped flak at the awards that aim to promote a healthy lifestyle for children. The "Happy Land" app received the Digital Ninja award for being the digital media campaign "most obviously targeting children and driving unhealthy participation in the brand".
Parents' Voice campaigns manager Alice Pryor slammed the campaigns for not "contributing to healthier futures for our kids".
In the drinks category, Gatorade copped the The Foul Sport award for its "The Game is Never Over" campaign featuring AFL's Scott Pendlebury.
"Parents are fed up with sports drinks such as Gatorade marketing to kids via their sporting heroes," Ms French said, explaining "nine teaspoons (36g) of added sugar per 600ml bottle - Gatorade is more likely to lead to weight gain than sporting prowess."
Already, more than 70 per cent of Aussie children are not meeting the national physical activity recommendation - and junk food marketing isn't helping, experts claim.
Jane Martin, executive manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, said the industry had no shame and would always put profits ahead of children.
"When around 40 per cent of the energy in the average Australian child's diet comes from junk food, it's time for the Government to stop leaving industry to make its own sham rules,"
"This type of unhealthy food marketing is undermining efforts by parents, schools and communities to encourage healthy habits. We know marketing works; it directly impacts what children eat and what they pester their parents for."
Parents' Voice also commended those encouraging a healthier lifestyle.
Former MasterChef contestant Alice Zaslavsky was awarded the Parents' Choice Award for Food, for her "The Phenomenom" campaign featuring springboard videos and interactive lessons for children.
The Parents' Choice Award for Physical Activity went to VicHealth for the "This Girl Can" campaign for inspiring women and girls to embrace a variety of physical activities to get them moving every day.
"We continue to be shocked by the amount of junk food and drink ads aimed at children. 1 in 4 Australian kids are above a healthy weight. This targeting of Australian kids must end," Ms Pryor said.
Smoke and Mirrors award: Nestle for "Add more milk" campaign
Digital Ninja: McDonald's for its "Happy Land" app
Pester Power: Coles Little Shop
Foul Sport: PepsiCo for its Gatorade "The Game is Never Over" campaign
Parents' Choice Award for Food: Former MasterChef contestant Alice Zaslavsky's the "Phenomenom" campaign
Parents' Choice Award for Physical Activity: VicHealth for its "This Girl Can" campaign
News.com.au has contacted McDonald's and PepsiCo for comment.