Virtual Junk Food Playgrounds in Europe: Advergames in the UK and Hungary
Unhealthy foods and drinks are among the top products advertised to young children. Considering the growing childhood obesity epidemic and the soaring number of children accessing the Internet, even online junk food advertising has come under increasing scrutiny. Many countries are in the process of expanding and revising existing regulation to account for the realities of the digital age and to respond to health and other social concerns. This paper focuses on two European countries in particular to examine and compare these processes through the lens of junk food advergames aimed at children. Our questions are: 1) Given the differences in the media landscapes of the UK and Hungary, what types of junk food advergames target children?; and 2) In light of the growing childhood obesity problem faced by both nations, how have government bodies, advocacy groups, and advertisers approached junk food advertising targeting children in general and online advertising including advergames in particular? The United Kingdom represents a country with the highest Internet usage by children and the most developed online advertising market in Europe, while Hungary, a post-communist country, represents an emerging media market where young people have less access to the Internet and buying power but constitute a crucial “entry point” for food advertisers.
Advergames, junk food advertising, promotion to children, advertising regulations, Internet, United Kingdom, Hungary, childhood obesity
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