GM Thought of the Week: Just a Spoon Full of sugar
Last week Generation Media were called to a round table event by a high-profile charity. The conversations were centred around if there is a requirement for lobbying on heavier restrictions for HFSS advertising. So what restrictions have been put in place? And why and how are they being enforced?
2008 was the year OFCOM enforced HFSS restrictions around programming content for children. Fast forward 10 years and 2017 saw the introduction of new rules in HFSS advertising in non-broadcast media where children make up at least 25% of the audience. Last month it was also announced by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, confirmation of plans to ban junk food advertising on the Transport for London network’s out-of-home estate, starting from February 2019.
Khan argues “It’s clear that advertising plays a huge part in the choices we make, whether we realise it or not, and Londoners have shown overwhelming support for a ban on ads for junk food and drink on our transport network.” Whilst the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising (CAP) said it was “widely acknowledged that factors other than advertising are the main influences on our children’s waistlines, including socio-economic circumstances, parental choices, school policies, sedentary pastimes, levels of understanding about nutrition and the availability of HFSS products”.
The most high-profile case for enforcement of the restrictions (or lack of) in recent month has to be Kellogg’s Coco Pops. Back in August, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the ad for Coco Pops granola product for breaking rules against advertising junk food to children. Kellogg’s appealed, and successfully overturned, the ban. Their argument was that the ad focused on a granola product clearly differentiated from the core Coco Pops range despite using the famous monkey character traditionally associated with Coco Pops.
Earlier this year both The Advertising Association (AA) and Food and Drink Association (FDF) have criticised the governments proposed ban on HFSS products before 9pm on TV, arguing that it will have no significant impact on childhood obesity particularly as so much of the media consumption takes place online. This level of restriction would also have the potential to lead to a downturn in advertising revenues and loss of jobs for the sector.
What is clear, as with all areas of advertising, it is crucial that the industry imposes a sensible level of self-regulation in order to maintain trustworthiness of the industry and prevent harsh restrictions imposed by third parties.