Ben and Jerrys ad

Two posters for Moophoria Light were displayed close to a secondary school and a primary school

Unilever UK has been rapped by the advertising watchdog for displaying two ads for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream near to a school.

Children’s Food Campaign (Sustain) complained that the two ads, seen in March, were for a product that was high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) and directed at children.

The first poster, which included the Ben & Jerry’s logo and the text ‘new Moophoria Light never tasted so right’, was displayed close to a secondary school while the second, which included the same text and images as the first, was put on a wall close to a primary school.

In its response to the Advertising Standards Authority, Unilever UK said its Ben & Jerry’s audience was 18 to 35-year-olds and its policy was not to advertise to children, which was taken into account when buying online, TV or outdoors media.

It added it was “disappointed” to see that its adverts had been mistakenly placed near schools, and said the posters were removed as soon as it discovered a complaint had been made.

Additional guidelines had also been given to its media buying agency to ensure the error was not repeated, Unilever added.

Build, the poster site owner, claimed the product had fewer calories and less fat than regular ice creams so it did not regard it to be high in fat. It confirmed the adverts were given a general distribution and that it did not consider that they were targeted at children.

The CAP code (Edition 12) rule 15.18 (HFSS product ad placement) requires that HFSS product adverts must not be directed at children through the selection of media or the context in which they appeared, and that no medium should be used to advertise HFSS products if more than 25% of its audience was under the age of 16.

The ASA said in its ruling: “The ads were located within 100 metres of schools. We considered that the proximity of the posters to the schools was likely to mean that the audience of the ads were significantly skewed towards under-16s and because of that they were directed at children through the context in which they appeared. We therefore concluded that the placement of both ads breached the code.”

The adverts must not be displayed again in close proximity to a school and the ASA told Unilever to ensure that it took measures in future to ensure that a similar situation involving HFSS product ads did not arise again.