Openly accessible

The timing, nature and extent of social media marketing by unhealthy food and drinks brands during the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand

Gerritsen, Sarah, Sing, Fiona, Lin, Karen, Martino, Florentine, Backholer, Kathryn, Culpin, Angela and Mackay, Sally 2021, The timing, nature and extent of social media marketing by unhealthy food and drinks brands during the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand, Frontiers in Nutrition, vol. 8, pp. 645349, doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.645349.

Attached Files
Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads

Title The timing, nature and extent of social media marketing by unhealthy food and drinks brands during the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand
Author(s) Gerritsen, Sarah
Sing, Fiona
Lin, Karen
Martino, FlorentineORCID iD for Martino, Florentine orcid.org/0000-0001-6718-5239
Backholer, KathrynORCID iD for Backholer, Kathryn orcid.org/0000-0002-3323-575X
Culpin, Angela
Mackay, Sally
Journal name Frontiers in Nutrition
Volume number 8
Start page 645349
Publisher Frontiers Media SA
Place of publication Switzerland
Publication date 2021-03
ISSN 2296-861X
2296-861X
Keyword(s) COVID-19
Coronavirus
New Zealand
advertising
commercial determinants of health
food and beverage
food marketing
social media
Summary Background: Concerns have been raised that health and societal causes surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic were misappropriated by companies to promote their unhealthy products to vulnerable populations during a time of increased stress and hardship (i.e., COVID-washing). Social media is a common medium for unhealthy foods and beverage marketing due to lack of regulation and low levels of monitoring.Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the timing, nature and extent of COVID-washing on public social media accounts by New Zealand's major food and drink brands in the initial stage of the pandemic after the first case was detected in New Zealand and when stay-at-home lockdown restrictions (Level 4 and 3 Alert levels) were in place.Methods: A content analysis of social media posts from February to May 2020 by the twenty largest confectionery, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, and quick-service restaurant (fast-food) brands was undertaken. COVID-19 related posts were identified and classified to investigate the timing, themes and engagement with social media marketing campaigns, flagging those that may breach New Zealand's Advertising Standards.Results: 14 of 20 unhealthy food and drink brands referenced COVID-19 in posts during the 4-month period, peaking during nationwide lockdown restrictions. Over a quarter of all posts by the 14 brands (n = 372, 27.2%) were COVID-19 themed. Fast-food brands were most likely to use COVID-19 themed posts (n = 251/550 posts, 46%). Fast-food brands also had the highest number of posts overall during the pandemic and the highest engagement. The most commonly-used theme, present in 36% of all social media posts referring to COVID-19, was to draw on feelings of community support during this challenging time. Suggesting brand-related isolation activities was also common (23%), and the message that “consumption helps with coping” (22%). Six posts were found to potentially breach one of New Zealand's advertising standards codes by promoting excessive consumption or targeting children.Conclusion: COVID-washing was used by unhealthy food and drinks brands to increase brand loyalty and encourage consumption. The current Advertising Standards system is ineffective and must be replaced with a government-led approach to effectively regulate social media advertising to protect all New Zealanders, particularly in times of crisis.
Language eng
DOI 10.3389/fnut.2021.645349
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 1001 Agricultural Biotechnology
1111 Nutrition and Dietetics
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30149647

Connect to link resolver
 
Unless expressly stated otherwise, the copyright for items in DRO is owned by the author, with all rights reserved.

Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.

Versions
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 0 times in TR Web of Science
Scopus Citation Count Cited 0 times in Scopus
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Access Statistics: 26 Abstract Views, 1 File Downloads  -  Detailed Statistics
Created: Wed, 31 Mar 2021, 07:19:59 EST

Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.