The Office de la protection du consommateur (OPC) lacks sufficient resources to monitor constantly the food industry. That is the reason why, since 2006, the Weight Coalition has taken on the task of reporting practices that are in apparent breach of the law. Here is an overview of complaints lodged to date.

In addition, the Weight Coalition lists the guilty pleas registered by the OPC.

In 2017

McDonald's (mascot Ronald McDonald at the SSQ Marathon in Longueuil)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • McDonald’s’s fast-food restaurant is of great interest to children.
  • A mascot attracts children. Besides the fact that the brand mascot is famous , the “feature M of the mark, recognized by the majority of children from a young age, is clearly visible on the front of the mascot costume as shown in the the pictures below, available on the Facebook page of the SSQ Marathon of Longueuil.
  • On May 22, 2016, mascot Ronald McDonald ran with the children during the 1 km race, which is exclusively for them.

Please note: a new edition of the SSQ Marathon in Longueuil will take place on May 21.

OPC’s response: Upcoming.

Coca-Cola (Holiday Seasons igloo at Carrefour Laval)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as Coca-Cola, are products of great interest to children.
  • The ludic aspect of launching artificial snow to each other in a giant transparent igloo inevitably attracts children. Beyond the attraction of the igloo itself, the Christmas decorations around it also appealed to the youngest. There were penguins wearing scarves featuring a small bottle of Coca-Cola, small Christmas trees trimmed with cola cans as ornaments, polar bears and bear babies, penguin babies, small benches, etc. In addition to cans of sugar-sweetened beverages, the logo and brand name were ubiquitous on the promotion site, as shown in the pictures below. They were found in particular on the side of the igloo, on panels in front of the Holiday decorations which surrounded it, on the door of the igloo, both on the outside and on the inside of the door. Three employees with the brand’s sweater and sleeveless coat ran the advertising activity. One of them questioned the people walking around the igloo, stating that it was “an activity to take 360 degrees pictures with children”. Participants were then informed that this photo souvenir would be sent by email. Finally, around the counter where participants gave their names and emails to receive the photo, there was placement of Coca-Cola products and images presenting them as a Christmas gift.
  • The giant igloo was located in the heart of the Carrefour Laval, a shopping mall heavily frequented by families, which offered a broad visibility to the brand. Considering its central location in the mall, the adertisement reached as much the children, who actually participated in the game and were going to play in the igloo, as those circulating in the Carrefour Laval and questioning their parents about the nature of the activity.

OPC’s response: Upcoming.

In 2016

McDonald's Restaurants (screen advertising of Happy Meal and its accompanying toys)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • The toys, as well as the children’s Happy MealMD, are intended for young children and of great interest to them.
  • Children can relate to the presentation on the big screen a short cartoon, featuring the characters associated to toys accompanying the Happy Meal, here the Ninja Turtles and Hello Kitty. The cartoon is gradually transformed into a real one, focusing on the toys the child can get. The smiling Happy MealMD box whirling at the center of toys also captures their attention. As it appears on the screen, it is no longer a simple packaging entitled to an exception, but akin to a character. Finally, the commercial accompanying the childish visual highlights the fact that there are 16 different toys to get and that one of them is offered with every Happy MealMD. This advertisement is a direct incentive to quickly return to the restaurant to eat another Happy MealMD and thus get the entire collection (the offers being for a limited time), or to claim the purchase, in addition to meals, of the other available toys.
  • The McDonald’s clientele is made up of a large number of children who are inevitably in contact with the screen advertising, awaiting the time of ordering and receiving of it. The size and height of the screen provides broad visibility to all customers.

OPC’s response: Upcoming.

McDonald's (logo display on a game kit available at checkouts)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • The kit includes an emoticon mask, stickers to place on the mask to create different facial expressions and coloring artwork, which is of great interest to children.
  • As shown in the pictures below, the emoticon mask, stickers and coloring board are clearly identified by the logos of McDonald’s, the Happy Meal and the Ronald McDonald House. The emoticon mask, as well as the stickers and coloring artwork, are designed to appeal to children.
  • The kit is freeely available at the cashiers, at the restaurant located in St-Basile-le-Grand, making it a catchy incentive for children.

macdotrousse-1 macdotrousse-2 macdotrousse-3 macdotrousse-4 macdotrousse-5

OPC’s response: Processing.

Restaurant La Cage aux sports (display of the restaurant's logo in the games and activities' booklet handed out to children)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • As shown in the restaurant La Cage aux Sports games and activivities’ booklet, games and activities identified by the restaurant’s logo are highly popular among children and of great interest to them.
  • As the shown in the pictures below, the 10-page activity booklet is identified by the logo of the restaurant La Cage aux Sports on the cover page and on pages 2, 3 and 9. By playing games in the activity book, children are exposed to advertising and hammering with the restaurant’s logo.
  • The Cage aux Sports activity booklet is handed to the children as soon as they arrive at the restaurant located on Route 116 in St-Basile-le-Grand, and are to be brought back home.

La Cage aux Sports-1 La Cage aux Sports-2 La Cage aux Sports-3 La Cage aux Sports-4 La Cage aux Sports-5 La Cage aux Sports-6

OPC’s response: Processing.

Tim Hortons (multisports area at the Fête des Neiges de Montéral, Jean Drapeau Park)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • Tim Hortons snacks and pastries, incliding donuts and TimbitsMD, are of great interest to children. Because of the presence of the Tim Hortons and TimbitsMD brands on all jerseys distributed to young participants to the activities and the abundance of the Tim Hortons brand in the multi-sports area, it appears that this advertising is specifically intended for them.
  • As shown in the pictures below, the Tim Hortons and TimbitsMD brands are inevitable: they are widespread and featured on a large number of play areas (pennants, arena bands, jerseys). They are also perfectly visible, highly attractive and at the children’s eye level.
  • The Jean Drapeau Park’s Fête des neiges de Montréal du Parc Jean Drapeau is an event frequented by a lot of families and children under the age of 13 years. The Tim Hortons multi-sports area, clearly identified with the brand’s image, is located near areas where activities, such as Télé-Québec area and the “petites pattes Naître et Grandir” area. In addition, activities are led by mascots that are of great interest to children and strengthen the emotional bond between the Tim Hortons brand and the event. Indeed, this advertising is specifically aimed at them, since they are participating in most activities of this area. In addition, hockey sticks and very small jerseys are lent to children so they can easily participate in the activities.

tim-hortons_fanions-2 tim-hortons_patinoire-1 tim-hortons_zone-multisports-3 tim-hortons_patinoire_mascotte-2 tim-hortons_patinoire-3 tim-hortons_fanions-4

OPC’s response: The merchant received a notice of violation.

In 2015

Kellogg's (cross-promotion of Hasbro toys)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • Sweet cereals, where this offer of free games and toys appears, arouse great interest in children. The offer of free statuettes is also highly attractive to them.
  • Occupying third of the front of the cereal box and located to the right of the image, the offer of free children games and toys is an essential part of the packaging. This cross-promotion of Hasbro (the logo of the company is at the center of the promotional offer) encourages children to demand the purchase of Kellogg’s cereals.
  • Many children accompany their parents to the supermarket, making it a place frequently visited by children under the age of 13. In addition to occupying a large space on the shelves, due to the widespread availability of free children toys and games on several kinds of sweet cereals from the Kellogg’s brand, the cereal boxes containing the advertisement are located at the children’s eye level and are easily accessible to them.

corn-pops frosted-flakes_2 rice-krispies

OPC’s response: Processing.

M. Christie & Cadbury (commandite du Village familial au Carnaval de Québec)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • Cadbury candies and chocolaty snacks and M. Christie cookies (e.g., Oreo, Chips Ahoy!) greatly arouse the interest of children..
  • The M. Christie and Cadbury logos are ubiquitous in the Village familial at the Carnaval de Québec: they figure in particular on the games and pennants everywhere on the site. In addition to the logos, products (e.g., Oreo cookies) are on great display as well. Consequently, it does not constitute “low-key” sponsorship authorized under the law.
  • The Carnaval de Québec is very popular with children under 13 years of age, especially the Village M. Christie/Cadbury site, which is designed for this age group.

cadburry cadbury-et-zone-interactive

OPC’s response: The merchant has been notified.

Coca-Cola (ubiquitous presence of Minute Maid beverage logo at the ski-school slope and in the windows of the daycare of Mont Sainte-Anne in Quebec City)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • The Minute Maid logo refers to fruit beverages, punch, juice and lemonade manufactured by Coca-Cola. These sugar-sweetened beverages appeal strongly to children.
  • The Minute Maid logo appears on a variety of platforms, many of which are playful and feature childlike characters. The logo figures:
    • on panels with images that appeal to children (photos of children, multicoloured drawings), placed in the windows of the daycare;
    • on pennants and panels on the edges of the ski-school slope, many of which feature drawings of animals with a childlike quality;;
    • on giant cans, small tunnels to go through and colourful banners with animals, which dot the ski-school slope and constitute obstacles children must get around.
  • The presence of games (e.g., tunnels, obstacles, …) featuring the Minute Maid logo increases the affective impact of this advertising on children.

coca-Mont-Sainte-Anne coca-Mont-Sainte-Anne-3 coca-Mont-Sainte-Anne-2 coca-Mont-Sainte-Anne-4

OPC’s response: Processing.

In 2014

Slush Puppie (advertising poster at Laval’s Family Day)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • Slush is a sugar-sweetened beverage that strongly appeals to children and is specifically intended for them.
  • The promotional poster is very large and placed on the ground, which ensures it is highly visible to children.
  • Featured on the poster is the brand’s character, a drawn dog with a childlike quality well known to kids. The dog is relishing a cup of slush.
  • Laval’s Family Day is a very popular event that attracts a large number of children under 13 years of age as many activities there are designed specifically for this age group.

Slush Laval

OPC’s response: The merchant has been notified.

Slush Puppie (advertising parasols in Val-David Santa Claus Village)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • Val-David Santa Claus Village is very popular with children under 13 years of age as the venue is designed for this age group.
  • The Slush Puppie advertising parasols are ubiquitous in the food court of this outdoor amusement park.
  • The brand’s character featured on the parasols is well known to kids. The dog is evidently enjoying slush, a beverage that appeals strongly to children.

serie-de-tables_slushpuppie_2014_06_26__10-11-53 slush Puppie

OPC’s response: Ongoing investigation.

In 2013

PepsiCo (sponsorship of the Méga-Parc children’s Montgolfière ride at Galeries de la Capitale in Quebec City)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • The Pepsi logo, which entirely covers each basket as well as the core of the Montgolfière ride, is a salient element of the ride’s ornamentation.
  • Méga-Parc, the largest indoor amusement park in Quebec, has a strong appeal for children, all the more so that it is located in a very busy shopping mall.
  • The Montgolfière ride is of great interest to children.
  • The ride is located right next to the central skating rink at the intersection of two lanes, including the one that small children must take to get to the rides and games intended for younger kids. Hence, the ride is highly visible to children.
  • The CPA Application Guide for sections 248 and 249 indicates that the use of a logo to represent a good constitutes advertising, as does the mention of a sponsorship if it is not presented in a “low-key manner”. Consequently, the fact that the Pepsi logo on the children’s ride cannot be ignored makes it advertising.

PepsiCo-1 PepsiCo-2

OPC’s response: the merchant has been notified.

Note: Informed of the complaint, PepsiCo remedied the situation by removing all advertising on the ride.

PepsiCo-3

Beaver Tails (advertising posters at La Ronde amusement park)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • Beaver Tails pastries, particularly those covered with chocolate and candies on the posters in question, strongly arouse the interest of children.
  • The two posted advertisements show very young children taking great pleasure in eating Beaver Tails pastries covered with chocolat.
  • The fun, playful aspect of the product is strongly accentuated by the children’s heavily chocolate-stained fingers. This sends small kids the message that the product can be eaten with their fingers and that it contains an abundance of chocolate. These are two particulars that appeal to children.
  • The poster featuring a little girl stresses the abundance of chocolate with the writing “Avec plusss [sic] de chocolat!” (With even more chockolate [sic]). The spelling mistake is likely to draw children’s attention, particularly those learning to read.
  • Montreal’s La Ronde is an amusement park visited by a great number of children under the age of 13. Consequently, putting up posters outside the walls of the restaurant located in one of the main food courts allows reaching a great many kids.

queue-de-castor-1

OPC’s response: The merchant has been notified.

Note: Informed of the complaint, Beaver Tails remedied the situation. In July 2014, the posters were modified.

Saputo (Igor Jungle website)

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • In the section of the website titled “Planificateur de fêtes” (party planner)/”Par ici les invitations” (This way for invitations), a charming gorilla named Igor appeals directly to children to produce invitation cards for their friends. The Igor cereal bars logo and a drawing of the trademark gorilla appear on each invitation.
  • According to the website, Igor children’s party invitations are intended for children 3 to 9 years of age.
  • Upon completing the invitation, children are invited to visit the “Coloriage” (colouring) section of the website. The Igor logo and the trademark gorilla appear on all of the drawings proposed. In the case of the Halloween-themed drawing, the Igor cereal bar is depicted as a treat.
  • The company has taken no measures to discourage children under the age of 13 from visiting its website and the sections that appeal to them.

OPC’s response: The case was closed after legal analysis.

Note: Following the complaint, the website www.igorjungle.com has been closed. In 2009, the company had already filed a guilty plea for advertising to children.

In 2012

Red Bull (“Flying Pigs” web advertisement)

Web advertisement featuring a young boy who is given permission to go to “a gentleman’s club”, thanks to Red Bull.

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • Although Red Bull is a product not recommended for children and adolescents, this sugar-sweetened soft drink is likely to arouse the interest of young people, including those under the age of 13.
  • The web advertisement is presented in a style likely to appeal to children in that it takes the form of a cartoon, features a child, and presents the product as instrumental in the transgression of a prohibition and the satisfaction of one’s desires. The  act that the advertisement is itself qualified as prohibited (prohibited on television) can also attract certain young people.

Plainte_RedBull_Cochons-volants

OPC’s response: Ongoing investigation.

Red Bull (advergames)

Advergames offered on Red Bull website:

Plainte_RedBull-advergame2

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • Though Red Bull is not recommended for children and adolescents, this sugar-sweetened soft drink is likely to arouse the interest of young people, including those under the age of 13.
  • Using games for marketing purposes is a form of advertising likely to reach young people in particular. In the case in point, ease of execution, bright colours and the possibility of building one’s own vehicle (soapbox racer, airplane or  motocross) in a variety of funny shapes (e.g., a pig) are some of the elements that appeal strongly to children.
  • Without the child being able to realize it, the repeated perception of a brand logo can develop in them a preference for the brand. This constitutes a form of advertising. Moreover, the fact of perceiving the logo in the context  of a fun game in particular can accentuate the affective tie to the brand. The fact that cans of Red Bull must be picked up in the course of the game as vital fuel for the racers constitutes advertising as well.

Plainte_RedBull-advergame1

OPC’s response: Ongoing investigation.

Sprite and Gatorade (product placement in the NBA2K1 video game)

  • Sprite and Gatorade logos visible regularly during a game of NBA2K11. For example:
    • a Sprite banner off the side of the court;
    • “G” and “Gatorade” logos on signs in the stands and on the scoreboard.

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages, such as Gatorade, are products that arouse the interest of young people, including those under the age of 13.
  • Video games have a great power of attraction and increase the possibility of reaching young people in large numbers and repeatedly. Though NBA2K11 is not intended solely for children under the age of 13, it is recommended for ages 6 and up. This makes it possible to reach a large number of children.
  • Without the child being able to realize it, the repeated perception of a brand logo can develop in them a preference for the brand. This constitutes a form of advertising. Moreover, the fact of perceiving the logo in the context of a fun game in particular can accentuate the affective tie to the brand.

Plainte_NBA-2k11_Sprite Plainte_NBA-2k11_Gatorade-2 Plainte_NBA-2k11_Gatorade-3 Plainte_NBA-2k11_Gatorade-4

OPC’s response: Ongoing investigation.

In 2010

Kellogg's (Froot Loops cereals TV advertisement)

  • Date: January 6, 2010
  • Time: 8:20 a.m.
  • Program: Salut bonjour

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • The food product itself (coloured sweet rings) and its packaging do not fail to draw the attention of children, and though Froot Loops cereals are not directed exclusively at children, they have a definite appeal for them.
  • The advertising uses 3 children as actors and childish language and representations, and the treatment leaves no doubt as to the target group
  • Although “Salut bonjour” is not a children’s program, the time of broadcasting in question, namely, 8:20 a.m., suggests however, on the basis of the Application Guide for the Quebec Consumer Protection Act, that the percentage of viewers aged 2 to 11 years represents 15% or more of the total.

To watch the Froot Loops cereals TV advertisement.

OPC’s response: The merchant has been notified.

McDonald’s (Happy Meal)

  • TV advertisement
  • Date: July 22, 2010
  • Time: 7:27 a.m.
  • Program: Johnny Test.
  • Broadcaster: Teletoon.

Why do we believe it constitutes advertising to children?

  • The Happy Meal Grilled Chicken Wrap is a product made for children under thirteen (13) years old and presented that way by McDonald’s.
  • The advertising message is presented in a childish way.
  • Johnny Test, the program where the advertisement is presented, is a children’s show.

To watch the Happy Meal TV advertisement.

OPC’s response: The merchant has been notified.

In 2007-2008

The Weight Coalition lodged other complaints that led the OPC to take legal action and culminated in guilty pleas by the concerned companies.

Do you think you are in the presence of an advertisement to children under 13 years old? Contact us and we will analyze the information. If necessary to file a complaint, we will initiate the process with the Office de la protection du consommateur.