The beverage company has promised not to market unhealthy foods to children, but a new study suggests it may have found a loophole: product placements on prime-time TV shows like the hit singing competition.
The study, from Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, found that the average child saw Coke products during prime-time shows about 200 times over the course of a year — far more than any other brand. And 95 percent of the exposures were during "American Idol."
That's despite a pledge that Coca-Cola and other major food and beverage companies made in 2006 to advertise only "better-for-you" foods to children — part of the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Researchers analyzed data from Nielsen, the media research giant, that showed how often unhealthy foods, beverages and restaurant brands were shown on prime-time TV during 2008. They found almost 35,000 such appearances — exposing children to almost one product placement per day.
Regular Coca-Cola soft drinks accounted for 71 percent of the product placements seen by children and about 60 percent of those seen by adults and adolescents. Children saw five times as many product placements for Coca-Cola products as they did traditional advertisements.