Marketing and Advertising
Marketing & Advertising
Our commitments include:
Our commitment to meeting the highest standards for responsible marketing covers all forms of marketing and communications to all audiences globally in any medium (television, radio, print, online, mobile, social media, streaming platforms, podcasts, email, text/SMS messaging, in-store, out-of-home, packaging, and any other form of media).
Regardless of the medium, General Mills will ensure that our marketing messages are inclusive and respectful. We will not produce marketing that is vulgar, insulting, or demeaning, or that undermines the role of parents and family or respect for community authorities. When placing paid advertising for our brands, General Mills will take steps to ensure that the advertising will air only on programming General Mills deems suitable, audience-appropriate, and relevant for the brand.
As described in more detail further below, we make a variety of special commitments applicable to child (under 13) and teen (13-17) audiences, but our core responsible marketing commitments apply to all audiences. We design all of our marketing to comply with all applicable law and we adhere to the requirements of the International Chamber of Commerce Framework for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing Communications (ICC Framework), which applies to all audiences. Among many other things, adherence to the ICC Framework requires all of the following:
- Nutritional information and claims about health benefits in marketing communications should have a sound scientific basis.
- Marketing communications should not encourage or condone excess consumption and portion sizes should be appropriate to the setting portrayed.
- Marketing communications should not undermine the importance of healthy lifestyles and balanced diets.
- Where claims or terminology used in marketing communications might reasonably be interpreted by a consumer as health or nutrition claims, they should be supportable with appropriate scientific evidence.
- Copy, sound, and visual presentations in marketing communications should accurately represent the material characteristics of the product featured, such as taste, size, content nutrition or health benefits, and should not mislead consumers concerning any of those characteristics.
- Food products not intended to be substitutes for meals should not be represented as such.
- Consumer taste or preference tests should not be used in a way that might imply statistical validity if there is none.
- Testimonials should be based on well accepted and recognized opinions from experts.
- Marketing communications should be clearly distinguishable as such that there is transparency around its commercial purpose and the identity of the advertiser.
Responsible Marketing Council
General Mills has established an internal Responsible Marketing Council (RMC). The responsibilities of the RMC include:
- Drafting and periodically re-issuing policies covering all of the Company’s responsible marketing commitments; and
- Ensuring full compliance with these policies through training initiatives and monthly marketing plan reviews.
General Mills is committed to acting responsibly and transparently to earn and maintain the trust of our consumers when collecting, retaining, and using personal data. To meet this commitment, our activities will be guided by the following principles:
Transparency. We seek to provide consumers with understandable and useful information regarding our collection, use, and handling of personal data. This will include clear disclosures regarding the types of data we collect or receive directly or indirectly, how this data is used and shared, and how it is secured and ultimately disposed of.
Choice. Alongside our disclosure of data practices, we seek to give consumers clear guidance on available means to withdraw or limit their consent to our collection, use, and handling of their personal data.
Data Minimization. Though we may collect personal data needed for the purposes we disclose, we will not seek to collect additional data for which we have no known or disclosed need.
Access and Control. Where appropriate given the sensitivity of the data and where otherwise required, we will adopt measures to provide consumers with: (a) reasonable access to the data collected from them, to the extent practicable; and (b) appropriate means to request its deletion.
Child and teen privacy
COPPA compliance (and similar compliance globally). General Mills operates in full compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), which governs the online collection and use of personal information from children under 13 in the United States, as well all other applicable child and teen privacy requirements globally.
Email marketing. General Mills does not engage in email marketing directed to individuals under 18 years of age anywhere in the world.
Online behavioral advertising. As required by law, General Mills does not engage in online behavioral advertising techniques (i.e., collecting individual online behavior data on General Mills websites or apps and then using that information to direct online advertising to individuals on other sites) when marketing to children or teens.
Advertising in schools
Regardless of the nutrition profile of the product, General Mills does not directly advertise food or beverage products in schools or school environments (including at school events) for children or teens, pre-K through 12th grade. Our commitment covers all forms of marketing (beyond the mere identification of the brand and product on menus and packaging). For example, we do not depict or display food brands, products, or logos on posters, signage, scoreboards, or school equipment, nor do we market foods by distributing product samples or branded merchandise, educational materials, or other materials in schools.
Advertising to children under six
Regardless of the nutrition profile of the product, General Mills will not engage in any product advertising on programming or content primarily directed to children under six years of age.
Child marketing and nutrition standards
In all markets around the world, General Mills has committed to not direct any marketing to children under 13 for any product unless that product meets strict nutrition standards (“Nutrition Standards”).
One of the ways in which we make this commitment is through the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA), where we are a founding member of the IFBA Responsible Marketing Commitment, which mandates Nutrition Standards for child marketing. In addition to the IFBA Commitment, which applies globally, we also adhere to analogous local or regional commitments in many markets around the world, where such programs exist. In the United States, for example, we have long been a founding participant in the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), which is operated by the Better Business Bureau. Similar to IFBA, CFBAI has set its own Nutrition Standards, and we commit to refrain from directing any marketing to children under 13 for any product that does not meet these standards. In any market where we are a member of such a program (or where specific regulatory requirements exist), we apply the Nutrition Standards that are applicable in that jurisdiction. In all other cases, we follow the IFBA Commitment Nutrition Standards, thereby assuring that our commitment is global.
If a product does not meet the Nutrition Standards:
- the product will not be advertised on children’s programming, defined as any program for which 30 percent (or more) of the total viewing audience is under age 13;
- the product will not participate in digital or interactive marketing activities (including websites, blogs, games, apps, streaming, etc.) directed to children under age 13;
- the product will not participate in promotion marketing activities (including sweepstakes, contests, toys, premiums, etc.) directed to children under age 13; and
- the product will not participate in any other form of marketing communication where the primary audience is children under age 13, including: sponsorships; product placements, integrations; cinema marketing; out-of-home (such as in places where children may gather); in-store promotion; using influencers, celebrities, or licensed characters for marketing communications; social media marketing; word-of-mouth or viral marketing; native advertising; mobile marketing; location-based marketing; and anything else not listed above.
Though we would consider product packaging to definitionally fall outside the scope of “marketing communications where the primary audience is children under age 13,” our product packaging will nonetheless be consistent with the above rules to the extent that the packaging serves as a means of running any activity otherwise governed by the above list. For example, if a product does not meet the Nutrition Standards, its packaging will not be used to run a promotional offer that is directed to children under 13, nor to unlock a branded interactive game for children under 13.
For digital marketing programs, we use a variety of means to ensure that our marketing does not unintentionally primarily reach an “under 13” audience. These techniques include: designing creative so it primarily appeals to older audiences; using age-screening techniques to preclude child participation; reviewing available audience data to determine the demographics reached by media placements and third-party websites and platforms; and (when such data is unavailable) reviewing these third-party websites and platforms to ensure that they are not primarily directed to children under 13.
General Mills is committed not only to full compliance with the IFBA, CFBAI, and other local pledges, but to our own commitments described on this page, many of which go beyond pledge requirements.
General compliance requirements. The Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) issues guidelines that play a major role in ensuring responsible advertising to children under 13 in the United States. General Mills is committed to full compliance with the CARU guidelines. The guidelines are posted at www.caru.org.
Pre-screening. In the United States, General Mills will pre-screen all advertisements (TV, print, online) directed to children under 13 with CARU staff to proactively solicit CARU’s advice and input regarding proper messaging/content prior to distribution of these advertisements.
Marking online advertising with “Ad Plane”. All online advertising directed to children under 13 in the United States will be clearly marked as advertising by using the General Mills “Ad Plane” or other means to identify the presence of advertising content on our child-targeted websites in compliance with CARU guidelines.
Analogous compliance outside the United States. CARU requirements apply only in the U.S., but General Mills is equally committed to full compliance with analogous requirements outside the U.S.
Social media, blogs, chats, etc.
Blogs, chats, and similar interactive communications. General Mills will not operate any blogs, message boards, chat rooms, or other similar online forums directed to children under the age of 13.
Social sharing tools. No social sharing tools (such as means for sharing material on Facebook) may be included on any General Mills website directed to children under the age of 13.
Balance, moderation, and exercise
All child-directed marketing communications/activity will respect General Mills’ Balance, Moderation, and Exercise (“BME”) strategy by focusing on these steps to healthier living:
Balance. Encourage families and children to understand and follow nutritional guidelines for a balanced diet of healthy and nutritious foods.
Moderation. Encourage families/children to eat sensible portions of food at any one sitting and throughout each day – never depict or encourage over-consumption.
Exercise. Advocate and reinforce the importance of higher levels of physical activity.
The "Balance, Moderation & Exercise" message will be incorporated into communications as appropriate.
Representations of food
In all child-directed marketing, food must be represented with appropriate realism, reflecting sensible portions and/or serving sizes. Over-consumption may not be depicted.
Representations of kids
In child-directed marketing, children must be depicted as active and energetic, engaging in physical activity in support of the General Mills BME strategy.
General Mills actively seeks ways to promote physical activity within interactive media. All General Mills online games and activities directed to children under 13 on General Mills sites must include a 15-minute “activity break” pausing the game or activity to encourage children to engage in another “more active” activity.
We take compliance with the responsible marketing commitments on this page very seriously and endeavor to have a perfect track record of adhering to our commitments. Insofar as we are aware, and based on independent compliance reporting by CFBAI (with regarding to those specific commitments), we believe that we maintain 100% adherence to our commitments. Were we to discover or be made aware of any potential noncompliance, our Responsible Marketing Council is charged with the responsibility for investigating and taking corrective steps, including training initiatives, designed to remediate the issue and limit the risk of recurrence.