Global consumer brands company Unilever announced that it will stop marketing food and beverages to children under the age of 16 years old across both traditional media and social media, as part of a series of commitments under its new global principles for responsible marketing to children.

Prior to the new commitments, Unilever, whose brands include Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum, ice cream, did not market or advertise foods and refreshments to children under the age of 12 in traditional media, and under the age of 13 via social media channels.

Matt Close, President Ice Cream, Unilever said:

“Recognising the power that social media and influencer marketing can have on children’s choices, we believe it’s important to raise the bar on responsible marketing to a minimum age of 16 years old across both traditional and social media.”

In addition to no longer targeting under-16s with any marketing or social media communications, the new principles also include commitments to not collect or store data on children under 16, or to use influencers, celebrities or social media stars who are under the age of 16 or primarily appeal to children under the age of 16. Unilever also committed to provide clear disclosure of provisions to influencers and limiting child appeal to influencer content, and to continue to refrain from promoting its brands or products in schools, with the exception of participation in educational campaigns, when specifically requested.

The new rules will apply across Unilever’s food and refreshment portfolio, including ice cream, with a January 2023 deadline for brands to comply.

Close said:

“It’s our goal is to continue to reduce children’s exposure to advertising from the food and beverage industry and to support parents instead. This way, caregivers are put back in the driving seat as decision-makers when it comes to their kids having a treat.”