Gurjit Degun
Nov 23, 2020

Mondelez, PepsiCo, Mars lead brands' ire against UK push to regulate junk food ads

Hit out at "astonishing" timeframe for consultation, as strongly worded letter says proposals lack "detail and efficacy."

Mondelez, PepsiCo, Mars lead brands' ire against UK push to regulate junk food ads

Mars Wrigley, Britvic, Mondelez International and PepsiCo are among the brands to have hit out at the UK Government's short deadline for its consultation to ban all online ads for foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar.

In a letter to the (British) Prime Minister, the brands – which comprise more than 800 food and drink manufacturers – said that the timing is "frankly astonishing", pointing out that they are dealing with the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak and the upcoming end of the European Union transition period.

The government launched the consultation on 10 November and it closes on 22 December. It is part of its strategy to tackle obesity and is aimed at helping to protect children from developing long-term unhealthy eating habits.

The Department for Health and Social Care has based the proposals on research that shows that children are exposed to more than 15 billion ads for HFSS products online every year.

The brands' letter, which is backed by industry bodies IPA, Advertising Association and ISBA, called the measure to ban all online ads for HFSS foods "a disproportionate proposal with an impossibly short time period given for responses, given the level of technical detail sought."

It added: "The sheer volume of critical work facing food companies in the next few weeks means that at this time we simply cannot give this consultation the resource it deserves and demands. Something will have to give.

"The timing of this consultation is frankly astonishing, especially as the government's stated ambition is to introduce these proposed advertising restrictions at the end of 2022.

"There is no reason to introduce this consultation and demand submission responses with such haste while effectively limiting our opportunity to respond, especially before the end of December."

The letter went on to say that the evidence behind the proposals lacks "detail and efficacy". It also said that advertisers use "sophisticated online tools" to target adult audiences and this has been demonstrated to the government "repeatedly".

"Why has the government chosen to disregard this?" the letter asked.

When the consultation was launched, industry trade associations warned that the measures are a "kick in the teeth" and will do "untold harm" to the industry at an "economically precarious time".

Campaign has contacted the UK Department for Health and Social Care for comment. 

Campaign UK

Related Articles

Just Published

31 minutes ago

David Beckham finds escape in global Maserati ...

This is the debut work for the car brand by Droga5 London.

38 minutes ago

Agency giants can continue renaissance with more ...

Agency holding companies have seen their share prices recover in the past six months. Now is the time to take on more risk by partnering smaller and nimbler tech-focused players to drive growth.

43 minutes ago

John Hegarty invests in freelance matchmaking ...

BBH co-founder says AI interface that matches briefs to creatives is "the answer" to the ad industry's need to "access the growing freelance workforce with speed and effectiveness".

13 hours ago

Brands should focus on optimism, connection and ...

As Ramadan continues to face physical restrictions, brands should focus on connecting people online, giving back to the community and building on optimism of better times to come, says M&C Saatchi Indonesia.