Marketing and advertising

We are committed to maintaining the highest standards for responsible marketing.

Each year, we establish industry-leading guidelines to ensure that we deliver on that commitment.

Our guidelines include:

Responsible marketing

General Mills will take care to ensure that our marketing messages are inclusive and respectful. We will not produce advertising that is vulgar, insulting, or demeaning, or that undermines the role of parents and family or respect for community authorities.  When placing 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.

Responsible Marketing Council

General Mills has established a Responsible Marketing Council. The responsibilities of the RMC include:

    a.  Drafting and issuing the General Mills Marketing Guidelines annually;

    b.  Ensuring full compliance with the guidelines through training initiatives; and,

    c.  Holding annual advisory reviews of all new product development plans and brand marketing plans for products that will be marketed to children.

Child Marketing Nutrition Standards

Unless a product meets the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative ("CFBAI") Nutrition Standards (pdf) defined on the CFBAI website, the product must not be marketed to children under 12.

Advertising in schools

Regardless of the nutrition profile of the product, General Mills does not directly advertise food or beverage products in schools, pre-K through 12th grade.

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 media primarily directed to children under six years of age.

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.

Physical activity

General Mills actively seeks ways to promote physical activity within interactive media.  All General Mills online games and activities directed to children under 12 on General Mills sites must include a 30-minute “activity break” pausing the game or activity to encourage children to engage in another “more active” activity.

CARU compliance

i. 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 12 in the United States. General Mills is committed to full compliance with the CARU guidelines. The guidelines are posted at

ii. Pre-screening

In the United States, General Mills will pre-screen all advertisements (TV, print, online) directed to children under 12 with CARU staff to proactively solicit CARU’s advice and input regarding proper messaging/content prior to distribution of these advertisements.

iii. Marking online advertising with “Ad Plane”

All online advertising directed to children under 12 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.

COPPA and other privacy compliance

i. General COPPA compliance requirements

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.

ii. Email marketing

General Mills does not engage in email marketing directed to individuals under 18 years of age.

iii. Online behavioral advertising

General Mills does not engage in online behavioral advertising techniques (i.e., collecting individual online behavior data on General Mills websites and then using that information to direct online advertising to individuals on other sites) when marketing to children.

Social media, blogs, chats, and user-generated content

i. Third-party social media platforms

Through its own websites or other communications, General Mills will not encourage children to participate in third-party social media services where the participation of children at these ages is not consistent with the terms of use of those services, and will not create promotions directed to children involving the use of these third-party social media services.

ii. 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.

iii. 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.

Product placement

General Mills does not pay for, or actively seek or approve, the placement of any General Mills products, regardless of nutrition profile, into programs or editorial content (in any medium) primarily directed to children under 12 for the purpose of promoting the sale of those products.

Restrictions for products not meeting CFBAI Nutrition Standards

i. Advertising

If a product does not meet the CFBAI Nutrition Standards it cannot be advertised on children’s programming, defined as any program for which 35 percent (or more) of the total viewing audience is under age 12.

ii. Interactive marketing

If a product does not meet the CFBAI Nutrition Standards, it cannot participate in digital or interactive marketing activities (including websites, blogs, games, etc.) directed to children under age 12.

iii. Promotion marketing

If a product does not meet the CFBAI Nutrition Standards, it cannot participate in promotion marketing activities (including sweepstakes, contests, premiums, sponsorships, etc.) directed to children under age 12.

iv. Licensed characters

If a product does not meet the CFBAI Nutrition Standards, it cannot make use of third party licensed characters highly appealing to children under age 12 on packaging, advertising, websites, etc. This prohibition applies even if the applicable marketing communication is not directed to children under 12.

Learn more


General Mills at a glance (PDF)

2015 Annual Report

Making food people love (PDF)

Global Responsibility

2015 report (PDF)