Digital junk: Food and beverage marketing on Facebook



Publication Details

Freeman, B., Kelly, B., Baur, L., Chapman, K., Chapman, S., Gill, T. & King, L. (2014). Digital junk: Food and beverage marketing on Facebook. American Journal of Public Health, 104 (12), e56-e64.


We assessed the amount, reach, and nature of energy-dense, nutrient-poor (EDNP) food and beverage marketing on Facebook. We conducted a content analysis of the marketing techniques used by the 27 most popular food and beverage brand Facebook pages in Australia. We coded content across 19 marketing categories; data were collected from the day each page launched (mean = 3.65 years of activity per page). We analyzed 13 international pages and 14 Australian-based brand pages; 4 brands (Subway, Coca-Cola, Slurpee, Maltesers) had both national and international pages. Pages widely used marketing features unique to social media that increase consumer interaction and engagement. Common techniques were competitions based on user-generated content, interactive games, and apps. Four pages included apps that allowed followers to place an order directly through Facebook. Adolescent and young adult Facebook users appeared most receptive to engaging with this content. By using the interactive and social aspects of Facebook to market products, EDNP food brands capitalize on users' social networks and magnify the reach and personal relevance of their marketing messages.

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