Hershey : Advertising advertising
A responsibility feature seems oddly self-serving.
Hershey, the US-based confectionery maker, issues a warning about promotional content.
Hershey’s universal navigation includes a secondary utilities string at the top of pages. The final right-hand link on most pages is labelled ‘AD ALERT!’ and stands out from the rest by being in bold yellow type, against regular white, and having a megaphone icon as a prefix. Clicking the link launches a small pop-up which explains that Ad Alert is “our way of telling you that the website you’re viewing may be trying to sell you something”. It goes on to suggest that visitors under the age of 18 should “always get permission from your parent or guardian before you make a purchase or even submit any information about yourself online”. The message is repeated at the foot of pages.
However, Shop, one of the site’s primary headings, opens Hersheygifts.com, which is Ad Alert free. There are also no alerts in the Recipes section, including its Products pages.
Like other confectionery makers Hershey has to trade in a world where plenty of people are ready to lay at least part of the blame for rises in obesity, particularly among children at its candy-shop door. Targeting children with advertising, whether online or off, is a related issue it also has to handle. Seen in this context its highlighting of the Ad Alert! link and attendant advice to ‘under age’ consumers is clearly designed to show it takes a responsible approach.
How effective this can hope to be as anything other than an obvious public relations ploy is debatable. It may be as much a signal to politicians (no need for tobacco-style regulation here) as to vulnerable web users, but still Hershey doesn’t help its argument by failing to carry through its alert to a site labelled Shop. It suggests a definition of ‘trying to sell you something’ that is, counter-productively, all too self-serving.http://www.hersheys.com/
First published on 09 April, 2009