May 20, 2024


Than a Food Fitter

Junk food brands targeting teens through viral TikTok ‘challenges’, researchers say

4 min read


Like countless numbers of Australian youngsters, Tom and Ellie Bryant appreciate scrolling as a result of films on social media system TikTok.

The 13-yr-outdated twins from Melbourne’s outer east are genuinely into System 1 videos suitable now.

Some of their other mates delight in the amusing viral dances and “worries” that have made TikTok popular.

“It really is a very good way to locate out what your friends like, and how they’re heading,” Tom stated.

TikTok says it has far more than 7 million people in Australia, so it is little question massive brands have sought to cash in on an emerging current market.

Even so, scientists say big junk foodstuff firms are concentrating on small children under 18 on TikTok and working with “insidious” advertising practices.

Pepsi ‘challenge’ lauded as ‘TikTok at its best’

A examine released nowadays by Deakin College appeared at the behaviour of 16 worldwide food items and beverage makes on TikTok.

By the assessment of additional than 500 movies, the researchers said companies ended up attempting to lure young social media customers into starting to be unofficial ambassadors, usually by means of “difficulties” involving merchandise.

In a single worldwide campaign seen billions of periods, soccer stars Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba kicked balls around and tossed Pepsi cans to each other, encouraging TikTok users to develop identical movies.

A screenshot of a TikTok social media video advertising Pepsi.
A screenshot of a preferred Pepsi TikTok campaign, showcasing intercontinental soccer stars Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba.(Screenshot: TikTok)

On its website, the social media corporation trumpeted the promoting campaign as “TikTok at its ideal” and explained it captivated “hundreds of 1000’s of younger folks”.

In a different, American TikTok consumers had been encouraged to study a dance, complete it at a Burger King cafe, and share it on line to get a $1 burger.

A woman dances in a TikTok video with a caption about Burger King.
US speedy food items chain Burger King developed a “Whopper Dance” for folks to carry out to get a $1 burger.(Screenshot: TikTok)

In Australia, influencers have been compensated by McDonald’s to really encourage TikTokers to re-build the “Maccas jingle” to mark the restaurant’s 50th anniversary in the country.

Deakin University affiliate professor Kathryn Backholer described the branded campaigns as “an amazingly insidious tactic by TikTok and junk food internet marketing businesses”.

Her research colleague Ruby Brooks stated one in four Australian little ones used TikTok.

“The junk food corporations are receiving a complete good deal of no cost promoting for solutions that we know are hazardous to children’s well being, even though the little ones or other end users developing this marketing and advertising get minimal to no benefit in return,” Dr Brooks claimed.

“We would like to see strong govt action that places kids’ wellbeing in advance of foodstuff field earnings and restricts kids’ exposure to harmful food and beverage marketing.”

In a assertion, a TikTok spokesperson mentioned the business had obvious advertising policies to enable preserve its group safe and sound.

“Our procedures explicitly point out that ads for HFSS foodstuff [foods high in fat, salt or sugar] need to not attribute a distinct phone to buy and ought to not be aimed at consumers aged 16 yrs and beneath,” the spokesperson stated.

A lot of teenagers ‘just scroll earlier it’

But can kids see by the spin? Quite a few surely can.

Ellie and Tom Bryant say they ordinarily overlook social media campaigns that attempt to market items.

“A lot of persons I know just scroll earlier and you should not assume about it, but there are undoubtedly some men and women that will get it and attempt it,” Ellie explained.


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