Who: Committee of Advertising Practice (“CAP“)
When: 8 December 2016
Law stated as at: 24 January 2017
After a full public consultation, CAP has announced that the advertising of high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) food and drink products in children’s media will be banned from 1 July 2017. The rules apply across all non-broadcast media, including print, cinema, online and social media advertising.
CAP summarised the new rules as follows:
1. Adverts that directly or indirectly promote HFSS food and drinks cannot appear in:
- children’s (under-16s’) media; or
- media where children make up over 25% of the audience.
2. Adverts for HFSS food and drinks cannot use promotions, licensed characters or celebrities popular with children but advertisers can use those techniques to promote healthier food and drinks.
3. The Department of Health’s nutrient profiling model will be used to classify which products are HFSS.
The new rules bring the non-broadcast rules in line with the broadcasting (television) rules.
The Chairman of CAP, James Best, stated:
“Childhood obesity is a serious and complex issue and one that we’re determined to play our part in tackling. These restrictions will significantly reduce the number of ads for high, fat, salt or sugar products seen by children. Our tough new rules are a clear demonstration that the ad industry is willing and ready to act on its responsibilities and puts the protection of children at the heart of its work.”
Why this matters:
The ban is a timely one that reflects the change in children’s viewing habits and technology. Ofcom’s recent research found that children aged between 5 and 15 are now spending more time consuming content online than watching television. Therefore, the new rules should significantly reduce the number of HFSS food and drink adverts that children will see. For example, the new rules will stop the showing of HFSS food and drink adverts around online videos.
While the change is clearly good news for brands offering healthier food and drink options to children, it poses a significant change and challenge to brands offering products that are classified as HFSS. In particular, many products classified as HFSS feature well-known and loved characters that have become licensed due to their popularity. To save the likes of Tony the Tiger (from Kellogg’s Frosties) and Chewie the Chewitsaurus (from Chewits) from advertising extinction and a potential life on packaging only, brands may begin attaching characters to healthier options or changing recipes so that certain products are no longer classified as HFSS.