Purpose: The goal was to assess websites sponsored by food and beverage manufacturers that have pledged to market branded food and beverage products to children responsibly, by ratifying the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI).
Methods: A content analysis was conducted of 24 purposively sampled websites sponsored by 10 companies that promote food and beverage products to children. All are participant members of the CFBAI.
Results: Of the 24 websites analyzed, the majority targeted children below age 12 (83%). An array of innovative online marketing techniques, most notably free website membership (63%), leader boards (50%), adver-games (79%), and branded downloadable content (76%), were used to encourage children's engagement with branded food and beverage promotions.
Conclusions: Food and beverage manufacturers are engaging children with dynamic online marketing techniques that challenge regulatory codes governing broadcast media. These techniques may contradict the spirit of the CFBAI. Innovative regulatory guidelines are needed to address modern marketing media.