Noe (2006) further stated that advertisements for food and beverages passes on a message that is powerful enough to trigger consumption of the food advertised and positive emotions linked to food consumption. The message conveyed in the food adverts have the powers to act as real-world primes and lead to corresponding eating behaviors. However, given the types of foods, which are mostly fast foods or snacks and consumption benefits that are typically promoted in food adverts, what is primed or activated in the human conscious is usually consumption of those foods that are rather unhealthy. Therefore fast food advertisement that conveys snacking and fun i.e. those mostly shown when children programs are on air, will automatically trigger consumption behavior not only among children but also adults. Furthermore food advertising will not only trigger consumption of the food that has been advertised but also any food that is available. One important thing to note about fast food advertising is that it is not regulated as compared to alcohol advertisement although there have been repeated calls for it to be minimized.
A new development in the fast food advertisement is the inclusion of healthy options in their campaigns. This development came after increased criticism of the harmful effects of fast food and one of the health risks that are largely blamed on fast food diet is obesity, which is commonly associated with various diseases such as heart attack. However, the increased criticism of fast foods as a key contributor of various diseases has negatively impacted the business of fast food restaurants since most people now prefer eating healthy. But in a bid to mitigate this impact, fast foods restaurants have set up marketing campaigns that seek to demystify this notion. With regards to McDonald's proposition which labels the restaurant chain as "The People's Restaurant" this means that McDonald has observed all healthy options in its menu and it also has fast food products for people who prefer eating healthy.
1.4 Target audience
Fast food advertisements are always directed towards a particular audience and over the past it has widely been observed that these advertisements usually target children and students whom are a target audience that mostly prefer and enjoy fast foods. For example the McDonald's happy meals are an example of fast food advertisement that target children, since it included a toy often wrapped with a newly-released children's film. Secondly, McDonald used the Ronald McDonald which was a clown mascot used for advertising that was initially introduced in 1963 targeting mainly young children.
The Carl's Jr. And Burger King fast food advertisements have widely been seen to target a different audience whom are young teenagers and college-age men whom are believed to have a big appetite for large, meat-filled burger and other rich satisfying food. The advertisements targeting this audience are usually coupled with sexual images and messages that are appealing and attractive to the target audience.
The McDonald's campaign that celebrates the inherent democracy of the McDonald's brand target consumers in the age group of 16 to 34 years because they believe these audience have begun to notice change and sense momentum around the brand. Secondly, they feel comfortable and welcomed in their restaurants mostly due to its pleasant ambience and WI-FI environment, thus it is a place they can be themselves. This group comprise of a diverse set of individuals who are bound by shared experiences and rituals which they can all relate to, because they all have a favorite at McDonald's restaurants.
1.5 Method of advertising
The most common methods of fast food advertising include; TV campaigns, print media campaigns, billboard campaigns, event sponsorship such as sports events, product placement in TV programs and films and branding on items such as clothes or plate.
Among the most notable advertising methods that McDonald's restaurant has used over the past include the 2005 viral marketing campaign during super bowl XXXIX and in 2001 the company placed a 30-foot pizza hut log on the side of unmanned rocket in the outer space just after making the first delivery of pizza to the outer space.
1.6 Regulations and criticisms leveled against fast food advertisements
Wide criticisms have been level against fast food advertisements and most of the critics cite these adverts as the contributing factor to the rising cases of obesity mostly among children who like fast food. Different countries have advocated for strict regulations to control these adverts that attract people to "junk foods" that are deemed unhealthy (Simmonds, 2006).
In the Great Britain for example there is a stiff regulation that regulates on advertisements of "junk food" that target young children, these regulations are contained in the Children's food bill. Another commendable action in the UK that was geared towards regulation of fast food advertisement was when in November, 2006 when the UK's Office of Communication announced that it planned to ban TV adverts for fast foods before, during and after TV programming whose target audience were children in the age of 16 years and below.
In June, 2006, the food standards agency (FSA) called for regulatory measures that could prevent fast food advertisement on TV before 9pm. The FSA also advocated for the disassociation of films and TV characters from fast food and also stopping the use of celebrity appearance in such adverts. Such calls by the FSA have widely been refuted by television stations and fast food companies citing that they will greatly reduce their revenue and hence endanger their business to a point of possible closure. However, Sweden is the only country that has so far been successful in implementing these regulations, since all advertisements targeting young children in the age of 12 years and below have been banned including those of fast foods ads (Derbyshire, 2006).
Bobbie J., and Owen G., (2006) is quick to note that, with strict fast food advertisements on radio, TV and print media, the fast foods restaurants have now opted for internet advertising to reach their target audience because it is less regulated.
The accuracy of images and messages on the fast food advertisements have also been criticized because of their inaccuracy. For example critics argue that a fast food product can be of poor quality than initially presented in the adverts. Also the message contained in the adverts have been cited as misleading for example terming fried chicken as part of healthy diet according to medical doctors is false and misleading information of which some consumers may believe, while the true fact is contrary to what is been said by the fast food advert.
With regards to the current McDonald's campaign that celebrates the inherent democracy of the McDonald brand it is not bound to be affected by some of the fast food advertisement regulations that are in place in the United Kingdom. Also it can be criticized because the campaign will not be specially promoting fast food products of McDonalds' but rather it will celebrating the inherent democracy of the McDonald Brands. Another factor that will shield the campaign from harsh regulations is the fact that the marketing campaign target audience who are in the age group of 16 to 34 years old and are above the age limit where strict regulations of fast food advert are imposed on.
1.7 Effects of fast foods advertising on eating behavior
According to United Kingdom's surgeon general "obesity is the fastest growing cause of disease and death in UK." And according to a report released by the World Health Organization (2003), obesity is leading contributor to the worldwide burden of chronic disease and disability. This trend is mostly evident in young people than older people. Statistics indicate that the percentage of children and adolescents in Britain who are obese or are at risk of becoming obese has tripled in a span of thirty years to stand at 37 per cent and 34 per cent respectively (Story and French, 2004).
Young, B. (2003) argues that the obesity epidemic has been caused by two major factors that include lack of physical activity or exercise among people and secondly consumption of foods i.e. junk foods that have high sugar and fat content. Health practitioners point an accusing finger at the unhealthy messages that are conveyed in fast foods advertisements as the leading cause of unhealthy consumption among people.
UK's office of communication notes that at least on an average in a day children view 15 TV food advertisements and surprisingly 98 per cent of these adverts tend to promote foods that contain high content of sugar and fat. It is also observed that these adverts portray to children unhealthy consumption pattern with positive results, which is not entirely true or justifiable. And besides the delicious taste, these adverts also show other benefits associated with these fast foods are happiness, fun and being "cool" (Brownell and Horgen, 2004).
Federoff et al. (1997) in their studies stated that research conducted on advertising…