Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), The England and Wales Cricket Board Ltd t/a The Hundred (ECB) and KP Snacks Ltd (KP Snacks)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 13 April 2022
Law stated as at: 27 May 2022
In April 2022, the ASA ruled that advertisements by ECB and KP Snacks breached the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) on the basis that they advertised products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) to children. This ruling concerned eight different ads, of which the ASA found two to be in breach of the CAP Code.
The ads in questions were through: an email, a website and three organic Instagram posts that were also promoted as paid ads. The content of the ads varied, but at a high level, contained cartoon images of cricket players, alongside logos of The Hundred and various brands from KP Snacks such as McCoy’s, Hula Hoops, Butterkist and Pom Bears. Some of the ads simply featured the logos from such brands whereas others were promotions posted from the Instagram accounts for the brand (such as Pom Bear). The ASA considered the snack brands to offer HFSS products, which was acknowledged by ECB and KP Snacks in their response to the complaint.
The ASA held that:
- The email ad exclusively featured HFSS products, and had been sent to 326 recipients under the age of 16. As such, the ad breached the CAP Code as the ad was directed at children through the selection of media in which it appeared.
- The website ad consisted of a series of “GET ACTIVE CHALLENGES” video where cricket players in KP Snacks branded kit completed challenges. Whilst the ASA considered the cartoonish, fast-paced and engaging nature of the ads, it ultimately decided that the ad did not have specific appeal to under-16s. As such, the complaint for this ad was not upheld.
- The complaints against the three Instagram posts were also not withheld as the ASA noted that substantially less than 25% of the followers of each the Instagram accounts were under-16s, with the reach and engagement towards under-16s also significantly lower than 25%.
- For the duplicate paid-for Instagram posts, KP Snacks used “Parenting” and “Parents” for the Pom Bear and Butterkist posts as interest-based factors to target the ads away from Instagram users under 16. No similar interest-based factors were used for the Butterkist post. The ASA found ECB and KP Snacks had taken sufficient care to ensure that the former two ads were not targeted towards those under 16; however, the same sufficient care was not taken with the Butterkist post and therefore the ad did breach the Code as it featured a HFSS product and was targeted at people under 16.
The ASA concluded that the email ad and the paid-for post on the Butterkist Instagram account both breached the CAP Code and must not appear in the same form again.
Why this matters:
For any business promoting or being sponsored by a brand associated with a HFSS product, the ruling demonstrates the importance of carefully setting the targeting criteria, including the use of interest-based factors and considering the audience of social media accounts when posting content that may appeal or be seen by an audience that consists of under-16s. In addition, the ruling reminds businesses of the importance of having thorough record keeping as the finer details of a campaign may be vital in the event of an investigation by a regulator.