Marketing and advertising
As an industry leader, we are committed to maintaining the highest standards for responsible marketing practices, especially those directed to children.
Each year, we establish industry-leading product standards and marketing guidelines to ensure that we deliver on our commitment.
Our guidelines for marketing to children include:
General Mills is proud of its reputation as a “family friendly” advertiser, and will not produce advertising that would undermine the role of parents and family, or respect for community authorities.
General Mills will air advertising only on programming it deems suitable for the family-oriented nature of its brands and products.
Special care is also taken to ensure that all marketing messages are inclusive and respectful of ethnic and religious affiliations.
Child Marketing Nutrition Standards
Unless a product meets the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (“CFBAI”) Nutrition Standards) defined on the CFBAI website (pdf), the product must not be marketed to children under 12.
Child Marketing Review Council
General Mills has established a Child Marketing Review Council (“CMRC”). The primary roles and responsibilities of the CMRC include the following:
a. Drafting and issuing the General Mills Child Marketing Guidelines annually.
b. Ensuring full compliance with the Guidelines through training initiatives.
c. Holding annual advisory reviews of all new product development plans and brand marketing plans for products that will be marketed to children.
Advertising in schools
Regardless of the nutrition profile of the product, General Mills does not directly advertise food or beverage products in schools, pre-K through 12th grade.
Advertising to children under six
Regardless of the nutrition profile of the product, General Mills will not engage in any product advertising, even gatekeeper advertising, on programming or media primarily directed to children under six years of age.
Balance, moderation and exercise
All marketing communications/activity should respect General Mills’ Balance, Moderation, and Exercise (“BME”) strategy to help families and children address health and wellness issues by focusing on three key steps to healthier living:
- Balance: Encourage families and children to understand and follow nutritional guidelines for a balanced diet of healthy and nutritious foods.
- Moderation: Encourage families/children to eat sensible portions of food at any one sitting and throughout each day – never depict or encourage over-consumption.
- Exercise: Advocate and reinforce the importance of higher levels of physical activity.
The "Balance, Moderation & Exercise" message will be incorporated into communications as appropriate.
Representations of food
In all forms of marketing, food must be represented with appropriate realism, reflecting sensible portions and/or serving sizes. Over-consumption may not be depicted.
Representations of kids
In all forms of marketing, children must be depicted as active and energetic, engaging in physical activity in support of the General Mills BME strategy.
General Mills actively seeks ways to use interactive media to promote physical activity. All General Mills online games and activities directed to children under 12 on General Mills sites must include a 30-minute “activity break” pausing the game or activity to encourage children to engage in another “more active” activity.
i. General Compliance Requirements
The Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) issues guidelines that play a major role in ensuring responsible advertising to children under 12 in the United States. General Mills is committed to full compliance with the CARU guidelines. The guidelines are posted at www.caru.org.
In the United States, General Mills will pre-screen all advertisements (TV, print, online) directed to children under 12 with CARU staff to proactively solicit CARU’s advice and input regarding proper messaging/content prior to distribution of these advertisements.
iii. Marking online advertising with “Ad Plane”
All online advertising directed to children under 12 in the United States will be clearly marked as advertising by using the General Mills “Ad Plane” or other means to identify the presence of advertising content on our child-targeted websites in compliance with CARU guidelines.
COPPA and other privacy compliance
i. General COPPA compliance requirements
General Mills operates in full compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), which governs the online collection and use of personal information from children under 13 in the United States.
ii. Email marketing
General Mills does not engage in email marketing directed to individuals under 18 years of age.
iii. Online behavioral advertising
General Mills does not engage in online behavioral advertising techniques (i.e., collecting individual online behavior data on General Mills websites and then using that information to direct online advertising to individuals on other sites) when marketing to children.
Social media, blogs, chats, and user-generated content
i. Third-party social media platforms
ii. Blogs, chats, and similar interactive communications
General Mills will not operate any blogs, message boards, chat rooms, or other similar online forums directed to children under the age of 13.
iii. Social sharing tools
No social sharing tools (such as means for sharing material on Facebook) may be included on any General Mills website directed to children under the age of 13.
General Mills does not pay for, or actively seek or approve, the placement of any General Mills products, regardless of nutrition profile, into programs or editorial content (in any medium) primarily directed to children under 12 for the purpose of promoting the sale of those products.
Restrictions for products not meeting CFBAI Nutrition Standards
If a product does not meet the CFBAI Nutrition Standards it cannot be advertised on children’s programming, defined as any program for which 35 percent (or more) of the total viewing audience is under age 12.
ii. Interactive marketing
If a product does not meet the CFBAI Nutrition Standards, it cannot participate in digital or interactive marketing activities (including websites, blogs, games, etc.) directed to children under age 12.
iii. Promotion marketing
If a product does not meet the CFBAI Nutrition Standards, it cannot participate in promotion marketing activities (including sweepstakes, contests, premiums, sponsorships, etc.) directed to children under age 12.
iv. Licensed characters
If a product does not meet the CFBAI Nutrition Standards, it cannot make use of third party licensed characters highly appealing to children under age 12 on packaging, advertising, websites, etc. This prohibition applies even if the applicable marketing communication is not directed to children under 12.