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Purpose: Given the role that food marketing plays in influencing dietary patterns in children, the aim of this article is to explore the internet‐based marketing tactics employed by eight leading Australian food companies that produce and distribute foods that are predominantly consumed by children. Design/methodology/approach: The marketing policies and child‐targeted internet marketing practices of eight major Australian food companies were examined. Findings: Seven of the eight food companies have web sites or sections of sites that are devoted to children and/or teenagers; with downloadable materials and extensive direct marketing. Of most concern was the collection of detailed personal information from children and/or teenagers, which was evident on the web sites of five of the seven food companies that have such sites. Research limitations/implications: This study examined only eight Australia food companies, so the findings cannot be generalized to other companies, or companies in other countries. The study was conducted at a specific point in time and, given rapid changes in internet marketing, it is likely that new strategies and messages will have emerged since data collection. Originality/value: The article provides a unique snapshot of internet marketing practices of a sample of Australian food companies targeting children and adolescents, and raises important issues for discussion regarding the appropriateness and ethics of some of these practices.


Centre for Health and Social Research

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Journal Article

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