Our Commitment

Original Commitment

The EU Pledge consists of two central commitments:

  • No advertising of products to children under 12 years, except for products which fulfill common nutritional criteria. For the purpose of this initiative, “advertising to children under 12 years” means advertising to media audiences with a minimum of 35% of children under 12 years.
  • No communication related to products in primary schools, except where specifically requested by, or agreed with, the school administration for educational purposes. 

Enhanced 2012 commitments

Initially, EU Pledge member companies committed to not advertise products to children under 12 years of age (except for products which fulfill specific nutrition criteria) and defined “advertising to children under 12 years” as advertising to media audiences with a minimum of 50% of children under 12 years.

EU Pledge member companies enhanced this commitment by lowering the audience threshold to 35% of children under 12 years. This tougher threshold has the effect of covering more media channels that have a significant child audience.

Furthermore, regarding online media, the EU Pledge originally applied only to third-party internet advertising. Since January 2012, EU Pledge member companies apply this commitment also to company-owned websites. By extending the coverage of the commitment to cover both third-party online advertising and brand websites, the EU Pledge covers online marketing comprehensively.

Enhanced commitments:

  • No advertising of products to children under 12 years, except for products which fulfill specific nutrition criteria based on accepted scientific evidence and/or applicable national and international dietary guidelines[1]. For the purpose of this initiative, “advertising to children under 12 years” means advertising to media audiences with a minimum of 35% of children under 12 years. This rule will be applicable as of 1 January 2012 throughout the EU.
  • In the online sphere, the above commitment will apply to marketing communications for food and beverage products on company-owned websites, in addition to third-party internet advertising. Member companies will develop and follow detailed guidance to apply this commitment by 1 January 2012.
  • No communication related to products in primary schools, except where specifically requested by, or agreed with, the school administration for educational purposes.

[1] Until the end of 2014, individual companies must either choose not to advertise any of their products to children under 12 or apply their own “specific nutrition criteria based on accepted scientific evidence” – click here for their individual corporate commitments made within the framework of the Pledge. From the end of 2014, common EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria will apply to those member companies that use nutrition criteria – click here for the criteria. Those companies that do not currently advertise any of their products to children will continue to apply that policy.

Enhanced 2014 commitments

On 24 November 2014, EU Pledge member companies announced plans to extend the scope of the EU Pledge commitment to cover a number of additional media and to address the content of their marketing communications by the end of 2016.
The adopted wording is:

  • Extension of scope: the EU Pledge currently covers commercial communications on TV, print, third-party internet and company-owned websites. From 31 December 2016, EU Pledge member companies will also apply this commitment to radio, cinema, DVD/CD-ROM, direct marketing, product placement, interactive games, outdoor marketing, mobile and SMS marketing.
  • Addressing creative execution: The new policy will ensure that where no reliable audience measurement data is available, advertisers consider not only the placement, but also the overall impression of the marketing communication, to ensure that if the product in question does not meet the common nutrition criteria, the communication is not designed to appeal primarily to children

 

Enhanced commitment:

EU Pledge members commit either to:

  • Only advertise products to children under the age of 12 years that meet the common EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria[1]; or
  • Not to advertise their products at all to children under the age of 12 years.

The above policy covers marketing communications[2] for food and beverage products that are primarily directed to children under 12[3] in covered media[4].
In addition, EU Pledge members agree not to engage in food or beverage product marketing communications to children in primary schools[5].
EU Pledge members will publish yearly reports to demonstrate compliance with this policy.
This policy will become applicable to all EU Pledge member companies across the European Union by 31 December 2016. Individual member companies may maintain or adopt specific policies that go beyond the EU Pledge commitment.

[1] From the end of 2014, common EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria will apply to those member companies that use nutrition criteria. Those companies that do not currently advertise any of their products to children will continue to apply that policy.
[2] “Marketing communications” means paid advertising or commercial sales messages for food and beverage products, including marketing communications that use licensed characters, celebrities and movie tie-ins primarily appealing to children under 12. Company-owned, brand equity characters are not covered by the policy
[3] Primarily directed to children under 12 means advertising in measured media where 35% or more of the audience is under 12 years of age. Where adequate data are unavailable, companies will consider other factors as appropriate, which may include the overall impression of the advertising, actions taken to restrict child access and the target demographic based on the company’s media plan.
[4] Covered media means the following vehicles: TV, radio, print, cinema, online (including company-owned websites and company-owned social media profiles), DVD/CD-ROM, direct marketing, product placement, interactive games, outdoor marketing, mobile and SMS marketing. Packaging, in-store and point of sale as well as forms of marketing communications which are not under the direct control of the brand owner, such as user-generated content, are not covered by this policy.
[5] Menus or displays for food and beverage products offered for sale, charitable donations or fundraising activities, public service messages, government subsidised/endorsed schemes, such as the EU School Milk Programme, and items provided to school administrators for education purposes or for their personal use are not covered. EU Pledge members commit to developing and publishing specific guidelines on permissible activities in schools which are undertaken as part of companies’ corporate social responsibility programmes.

Enhanced 2021 commitments

On 5 July 2021, EU Pledge members enhanced the commitment by increasing the age of a child to 13 and lowering the audience threshold to 30%. The new policy also embeds qualitative requirements from the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Framework for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing Communications in all marketing communications.

Members additionally revised the common nutrition criteria by further restricting which products are eligible to be advertised to children. The enhanced common nutrition criteria will be applied no later than 30 June 2022.

From 1 January 2022 onwards, EU Pledge membership therefore requires companies:

These rules are applicable to all EU Pledge member companies across the EU. Individual member companies may maintain or adopt specific policies that go beyond the EU Pledge commitment.

Enhanced commitments:

I. Restricting high fat/sugar/salt product marketing to children

EU Pledge members commit to:

  • Only advertise products to children under the age of 13 years that meet the EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria1 ; or
  • Not advertise their products at all to children under the age of 13 years.

The above policy covers food and non-alcoholic beverage product marketing communications2 that are primarily directed to children under 133 in all covered media4.

EU Pledge member companies further commit not to engage in food or beverage product marketing communications to children in primary schools5, except where specifically requested by, or agreed with, the establishment’s administration for educational purposes.

Nutrition criteria

EU Pledge member companies who choose to advertise some of their products to children will apply the updated and strengthened EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria. These further limit the type of products that can be marketed to children. EU Pledge member companies further agree to review the nutrition criteria on a regular basis.

II. Responsible food and beverage marketing

EU Pledge members further commit to abiding by:

  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice; and
  • The ICC Framework for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing Communications

in all their marketing communications6, regardless of the age of the audience or the nutritional profile of the product, with regard in particular to rules that go beyond or are more specific than EU law, such as:

  • Food and beverage marketing communications should not encourage or condone excess consumption and portion sizes should be appropriate to the setting portrayed.
  • Marketing communications should not undermine and wherever possible promote the importance of balanced diets and healthy lifestyles.
  • Copy, sound and visual presentations in marketing communications for food and beverage products should accurately represent the material characteristics of the product featured, such as taste, size, content, nutrition or health benefits, and should not mislead consumers concerning any of those characteristics.
  • Food products not intended to be substitutes for meals should not be represented as such.

Member companies will abide by this enhanced commitment across the EU by 1 January 2022. The enhanced common nutrition criteria will be applied no later than 30 June 2022.

 

1 The EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria apply to those member companies that use nutrition criteria. Those companies that do not currently advertise any of their products to children will continue to apply that policy. The EU Pledge Nutrition Criteria have been updated and strengthened in 2021.
2 “Marketing communications” means paid advertising or commercial sales messages for food and beverage products, including marketing communications that use licensed characters, celebrities and movie tie-ins. Company-owned, brand equity characters are not covered by the policy.
3 Primarily directed to children under 13 means advertising in measured media where 30% or more of the audience is under 13 years of age. Where adequate data are unavailable, companies will consider other factors as appropriate, which may include the overall impression of the advertising, reliable age-screening or age-targeting techniques, and the target demographic based on the company’s media plan.
4 “Covered media” means TV, radio, print, cinema, online (including social media and other online platforms and sites, including company-owned websites and video-sharing platforms such as YouTube), direct marketing, product placement, interactive games, outdoor marketing, mobile marketing and contracted influencers. Packaging, in-store and point of sale as well as forms of marketing communications which are not under the direct control of the brand owner, such as user-generated content, are not covered by this policy.
5 The following are not covered: menus or displays for food and beverage products offered for sale charitable donations or fundraising activities, public service messages, government subsidized/endorsed schemes, such as the EU School Milk Programme, items provided to school administrators for education purposes or for their personal use, product availability and unbranded vending machines.
6 Compliance with ICC related provisions and complaints received through the EU Pledge Accountability Mechanism will be deferred to national self-regulatory organisations/ad standard bodies as applicable.