Children’s online, social media and cinema content will no longer be able to advertise products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) under tough new advertising rules.
In a clampdown by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), non-broadcast media will face the same restrictions as TV in advertising HFSS products to children from tomorrow.
The regulations will include TV-like content online, such as video-sharing platforms or in any media where children make up over 25% of the audience. The clampdown follows a CAP consultation last year that suggested placing restrictions on non-broadcast media would herald a major reduction in the number of ads children see for HFSS products.
Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, said the health lobby would target any company that stepped out of line. It has launched Operation Eagle Eye - an initiative encouraging people to monitor how food and soft drink companies are advertising their products - and will submit complaints to the ASA about any ads that breach the new rules.
“After years of our campaigning on this issue we welcome these long-awaited new rules, which should hopefully stop some of the more blatant forms of advertising junk food directly to children,” he said.
“But we have concerns about exactly how the rules will work in practice, especially online. We are also disappointed that some criteria may still mean children remain exposed to a significant level of junk food marketing on websites and social media. In addition, packaging, in-store promotion and sponsorship deals remain outside the rules.
“Past experience suggests we will have a busy time ahead keeping a close eye on advertisers, submitting complaints and challenging the Advertising Standards Authority to clarify the grey areas and close down the loopholes. We know sweet and confectionery brands are among those most needing to step up.”
CAP said the new ad restrictions would still have a positive impact in reducing harm to children.
Chairman James Best said: “The tougher new advertising food rules are a significant and positive change designed to help protect the health and wellbeing of children. These measures demonstrate the advertising industry’s continuing commitment to putting the protection of children at the heart of its work. The new rules will alter the nature and balance of food advertising seen by children and play a meaningful part in helping change their relationship with less healthy foods.”