Advertising that appears within games and activities on Kellogg’s Froot Loops Web site must be disclosed, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended.

The cereal-centric Web site, www.FrootLoops.com, is “colorful” and “vibrant,” the self-regulatory body said, and the 12 different interactive games feature the Froot Loops mascot, Toucan Sam, and his cousins.

But missing from the games – each of which includes Fruit Loops cereal and/or Toucan Sam – was a disclosure that advertising was integrated, CARU said.

“The games appear on Kellogg’s Froot Loops website and prominently feature the Froot Loops cereal and mascot, Toucan Sam. CARU determined that the integration of the branded cereal product into the games clearly presented an advertising message. Indeed, the themes of these games are indistinguishable from those used in other child directed advertisements.”

The CARU guidelines were revised in 2006. Under these revisions, when marketers include advertising that is integrated into the content of a game or activity on a child-directed Web site, such marketers must make clear that advertising is included. “Advertising” is defined to include “persuading the audience of the value or usefulness of a company, product or service.”

To bring the site into compliance, Kellogg agreed to add disclosures not only to the Froot Loops site, but across all of its child-targeted Web sites. The disclosures will appear on the Web site landing page and on all pages that contain games, with the disclosures remaining on the page during gameplay. The disclosure, in a bold and contrasting color to the background in order to attract a child’s attention, reads “This is advertising from Kellogg’s.”

To read CARU’s press release about the decision, click here.

Why it matters: “On websites directed to children, if an advertiser integrates an advertisement into the content of a game or activity, then the advertiser should make clear, in a manner that will be easily understood by the intended audience, that it is an advertisement,” CARU emphasized.