NEWS11 November 2020

UK proposes online junk food advertising ban

FMCG News Public Sector Trends UK Youth

UK – The government has launched a consultation on a total ban on advertising high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) products online amid criticism from four advertising sector representative bodies. 

Junk food

An online-only consultation was published by the government on 10th November setting out its proposals as part of the UK’s obesity strategy. The consultation, which runs until the end of 22nd December, proposes removing all marketing communications from the internet that would be viewable to UK consumers.

However, the Advertising Association, Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Internet Advertising Bureau UK have called the proposals “severe and disproportionate” in a statement.

The consultation claims that the difficulty in imposing an advertising watershed on the internet, like the 9pm watershed proposed for HFSS television advertising, and the growth in television streaming online means a total ban would be needed for its HFSS advertising restrictions to be effective.

“The increased estimates of children’s online media consumption strengthens the case for government acting to reduce children’s exposure to HFSS online and demonstrates the rising risk of children’s exposure in this media where children are spending an increasing amount of time,” states the consultation.

The ban would not relate to business to business marketing communications, factual claims about products and services, and communications with the purpose of facilitating an online sale.

The statement from the four industry bodies said that the proposals would do “untold harm” to the nation’s creative and food and drink sectors.

“The advertising sector is a proven engine of the UK economy, and we would urge ministers not to damage the jobs and tax revenue it creates,” the statement claims.

“The government is setting out headline-grabbing proposals, but we are far from convinced that they have made the case, or set out the evidence for, a heavy-handed intervention of this kind.

“We urge ministers to start engaging meaningfully with industry now, and to develop evidenced solutions that are targeted at the problem they wish to address, appropriate to digital media and fit for the 21st century.”