Following Kellogg’s withdrawal of a Pringles advertisement shown ahead of ‘P.E. with Joe’, some groups have called for a watershed on High Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS) advertising. Advertising Association Chief Executive Stephen Woodford has issued the following statement:
“UK advertising rules on HFSS foods advertising are among the strictest in the world and already restrict the advertising of HFSS food or drink products in and around TV programmes commissioned for, or likely to appeal to children. The rules for all other media, including online, restrict HFSS ads to media where under 16s make up more than 25% of the audience. When this particular advert was brought to the advertiser’s attention they acted promptly to ensure that no further similar adverts would appear on Joe Wicks’ YouTube channel and we respect their decision not to advertise further.
“To the wider point about a 9pm watershed on HFSS advertising, the Government’s own research into this proposal has shown that this measure would only remove only 1.7 calories per day from children’s diets. On the other hand, were this ban to be brought in, consumers would stand to lose some of the benefits of the ad-supported media ecosystem that they currently enjoy and which has provided much valuable content and information during the COVID-19 crisis. The introduction of a watershed ban would come at a cost of £1 billion to UK GDP at a time when the national economy is in an extremely sensitive state.
“International experience shows advertising bans have little impact on the wider societal issues that drive obesity. The way to address the problem is through local, targeted interventions that address key lifestyle factors, including exercise and eating a balanced diet. Advertising can help with positive messages making healthier food choices, as the ITV ‘Eat them to defeat them’ campaign promoting the eating of fresh vegetables shows. The current COVID-19 outbreak has further shown that advertising can play a critical role in public health campaigns. Therefore, any action that might involve further restrictions on industry must be proportionate, evidence-based and effective and not cause damage to an already fragile advertising and media landscape.”