Two adverts for KFC and Kellogg’s have been banned for promoting junk food to children, one placed outside a school and the other during a cartoon break.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rules dictate that no medium can be used to advertise products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) if more than 25% of its audience will be under 16 years old.
The Obesity Health Alliance were the group responsible for flagging the Kellogg’s Coco Pops granola advert that appeared in January between episodes of the Mr Bean cartoon, and an ad for the KFC Mars ‘Krushems’ drink that appeared in July, in a telephone box at the entrance to a primary school.
KFC did not argue its case, and said that the advert placed in the telephone box was mistakenly placed within 100 metres of the school. And the error came about after its media agency mistakenly selected the phone kiosk as a site.
A KFC spokesman said: “This was a total mistake, and we’re really sorry for it. It was the result of human error at one of our media agencies, which the ASA has accepted, and we made sure the advert was taken down.”
However cereal brand Kellogg’s argued that the granola was not breaking the rules as it was not a HFSS product. But the ASA successfully ruled that although granola was indeed not HFSS, being made synonymous with the original Coco Pops had the effect of promoting a high sugar cereal.
Kellogg’s said: “We are disappointed with this decision as we ensured throughout the advert that we were only promoting the Coco Pops Granola product, a cereal that can be advertised in children’s airtime.
“It’s particularly surprising when a ruling from the television regulator Ofcom published on Monday confirmed that an advert for the same product was not in breach of the advertising code.”
Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “The ruling on Coco Pops Granola provides an important precedent for junk food marketing.
“This ruling recognises that, even though the product shown is classified as ‘healthier’, the advert used all the same features as adverts for original Coco Pops cereal and therefore essentially promoted the less healthy product, which is not acceptable.
“We are very supportive of brands reformulating their products to reduce sugar and overall calories, but they must market them responsibly.
The ASA also cleared two McDonald’s ads, the first for a Happy Meal which appeared between episodes of Peppa Pig on the Video on Demand service Ketchup TV, on the grounds that it did not feature any HFSS products.
The second ad, which appeared on the back of bus tickets and promoted a Big Mac, McChicken Sandwich or Filet-O-Fish and medium fries, did not break the rules because children made up less than 25% of its audience, the ASA ruled.
Last month the ASA banned ads for Cadbury eggs and Chewits and Squashies sweets as a result of new rules prohibiting campaigns for HFSS across all children’s media – including online and social – introduced in July last year.
The Government has proposed a 9pm watershed for advertising unhealthy products as part of the second chapter of its childhood obesity strategy.