Unilever advertising puts the squeeze on skinny models

THE giant multinational Unilever — which owns HB, Flora, Knorr, Sunsilk and Persil among other well-known products — has placed an advertising ban on skinny models.

Unilever has “adopted a global guideline that will stop the future use of size zero models or actors in its advertising,” the company said yesterday.

Going one step further, the company will restrict its marketing to children between six and 11 years of age to include only healthier foods and beverages.

Unilever said all its brand directors and agencies will be expected to use models whose size is regarded as healthy in accordance with UN guidelines.

Paul Murphy, Unilever Ireland chairman said: “As a responsible company, Unilever has adopted a new global guideline that will require that all its future marketing communications should not use models or actors that are either excessively slim or promote an ‘unhealthy’ slimness. It’s a response to growing societal concerns about the possible negative health effects that could occur should people pursue unhealthy or excessive slimness.

“Unilever believes in a healthy balanced diet and that both men and women have the right to feel comfortable with their bodies and not suffer from lack of self-esteem brought on by images of excessive slimness.”

On the subject of global commitment to responsible marketing to children, the company said this voluntary commitment will cover food and beverage products which have a positive nutritional profile. This commitment was made based on a growing body of evidence that children below six found it difficult to distinguish between programming and advertising.

The company’s policy will be fully implemented by the end of 2008.

“Unilever has an ongoing committed to act responsibly in its marketing practices to consumers around the world. We also see this as a further step in responding to growing concerns about rising levels of obesity and dietary deficiency, particularly among children,” Mr Murphy said.

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of consumer goods. Its portfolio includes renowned brands featuring icons like Flora, Bertolli, Dove, Lux, Pond’s, Lynx, Sunsilk, Persil, Cif and Domestos.

Unilever Ireland is responsible for brands such as Knorr, Lyons Tea, Flora, Hellmann’s, HB ice cream, Surf and Lynx.

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