Boots shop

Boots has been rapped by the advertising watchdog for breaking rules which ban marketing communications for infant formula.

The health and beauty retailer breached the rules with four paid-for Google ads in April, the Advertising Standards Authority found.

Under advertising rules, marketing communications for infant formula are only allowed in scientific publications or for the purposes of trade, before the retail stage, and where intended readers are not the general public.

Boots told the regulator the ads appeared as a result of human error. It said Google ads were pulled from its website in an automatic feed, and the breaches stemmed from an out-of-date list of products which should be excluded.

The retailer said immediate steps had been taken to manually remove all its infant formula advertising from Google and other search engines, and a new process had been put in place to prevent a reoccurrence.

The ASA welcomed the actions but concluded the ads had nevertheless broken the rules and banned them from appearing again.

It comes a week after Iceland executive chairman Richard Walker acknowledged the supermarket had broken the law with marketing communications about infant formula price drops. Walker has called for advertising law to change, arguing supermarkets should be able to communicate price drops without fear of reprimand in a cost of living crisis.