Online Program

Brand integration in advergames: Impact on children's product preferences and nutritional beliefs

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 2:50 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.

David Bickham, PhD, Center on Media and Child Health, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA
Yulin Hswen, MPH, Center on Media and Child Health, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA
Introduction. Food marketing to children is evolving from television commercials to interactive digital games that promote branded food products. Limited research has found evidence that these games encourage children to choose and eat the types of foods advertised. This study investigates how the level of brand integration in a game impacts its effectiveness and examines if this marketing strategy has a varying effect by users' age and sex. Methods. 89 6- to 10-year-olds were randomly assigned to play one of three advergames that differed by level of product integration: 1) no advertising, 2) low integration (background image), and 3) high integration (product as game pieces). Following game play, participants rated their desire to eat the featured non-US brand snack cake, their overall fondness for it, its perceived taste, and how healthy it is. Logistic regression was used to estimate the association between condition and product ratings and to determine if relationships differed by participants' age and gender. Results. Children in the low integration condition were more likely than those in the other two conditions to say the snack cake was healthy/neutral. Results suggested that the advergame was more influential for boys and children 6-7 years old than girls and older children. Discussion. Background imagery may be a sufficient level of brand integration for an advergame to influence children's beliefs about a product. Effective regulation would target games featuring any level of food product integration and should identify boys and younger children as especially vulnerable to interactive digital marking strategies.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare the persuasive influence of different advergaming product integration strategies. Assess the differing impact advergames can have on users according to their gender and age. Describe what might be effective industry regulations to limit the impact of advergames that feature non-nutritious food products.

Keyword(s): Media, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted multiple studies and published articles examining the processes that link children's media use to obesity. I received an internal grant to investigate digital food advertising and their impact on children's food preferences and nutritional understanding.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.