from Simon Melville, joint MD of advertising company Gasoline

Sir; Once again the messenger is in the firing line. I refer, of course, to Ofcom's proposals to restrict food advertising to children ('The battle of the bulge', The Grocer, April 29, p33).

The natural scapegoat may be the advertising and marketing agencies but there is scant proof that advertising causes obesity. Rather too much salt, sugar and fat are the culprits. So, as ever, who to blame is not a black and white issue.

On the one hand advertising agencies have to admit that their work does cause an increase in consumption and the industry cannot hide behind the old argument that it merely encourages youngsters and their parents to switch brands. Advertising agencies have to shoulder some of the blame.

However, the very notion of advertising agencies admitting that they cannot develop new markets would be anathema to their clients, who would subsequently ditch them in favour of an agency that could help increase market size.

Manufacturers are recognising popular sentiment by voluntarily reducing advertising to children and putting nutritional content of food on-pack.

However, parents, too, have a role to play in ensuring that their children eat healthily while still enjoying treats.
The word "no" seems under-used by many parents. So once again the muddy waters of blame and counter blame refuse to be calmed and cleared.

Perversely, as the restrictions on advertising become tighter, the creative element becomes even stronger. If our past experience is anything to go by, there is always a way to promote your product.

Banning advertising on television is probably not the answer to this issue.