McDonald's has distanced itself from Seven after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) this morning slammed the network for broadcasting a McDonald's-branded station identifier during children's programming.
The station identifier was broadcast during protected preschool programming periods in October and November 2010. The identifier consisted of footage taken in an adult-sized McDonald's playground and included prominent representations of McDonald's characters and the "Golden Arches" symbol.
A McDonald's spokesperson told AdNews: "McDonald's Australia is extremely disappointed that the identifier was placed during C and P viewing periods. This advertisement was not produced by McDonald’s but was produced and placed by Channel Seven. We were not aware nor did we authorise the use of this footage during C and P times. It is our strict policy not to place any advertising in C or P viewing periods. We take very seriously our commitment to responsible advertising where children are concerned."
"As founding members of the QSR Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children, any advertising to children is placed in G programming only and strictly promotes our healthier options, which adhere to specific criteria for energy, saturated fat, sugar and sodium," the spokesperson said.
ACMA determined that the identifier constituted an advertisement for McDonald's, in breach of the Children's Television Standards 2009 which bans any advertising during preschool viewing periods, as well as restricting the type of advertising which can be run during children's viewing periods.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said: "The ACMA remains serious about the protection of children during children's programming, particularly given their vulnerability to forms of advertising that are not well signposted or have the potential to be unduly influential."
ACMA has ordered Seven Network licensees in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to review all non-programming material to be broadcast during P programming periods, as well as conduct specific CTS training for employees.
A Seven Network spokesperson told AdNews: "We accept ACMA's finding and are implementing steps, as discussed with the regulator, to improve our processes."
According to the ACMA report, the Seven Network argued that "the proprietary characters are merely presented as inanimate objects and that there can be no increase in public awareness of a product or service by mere association".
ACMA rejected this claim, stating that "brand awareness refers to a customer's ability to recall and recognise a brand under different conditions and to link the brand name, logo and in this case, the Golden Arches and the proprietary characters of the Grimace and Hamburglar, to the commercial products and services sold under the brand name".
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