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Regulation of food and soft drink advertising

CAP and ASA have announced new measures to maintain effective regulation of food and soft drink advertising.


Says IPA Legal Director Richard Lindsay, “CAP’s announcement explains that “food and soft drink advertising is under control and that the rules are working effectively”. However, the IPA welcomes measures, such as the updated CAP Help Note, that will help agencies continue to create responsible food and soft drink advertising to children.”

Full CAP/ASA press release:

CAP and ASA announce new measures to maintain effective regulation of food and soft drink advertising

Today we and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) are announcing our intention to conduct new research and compliance work to ensure that the regulation of food and soft drink advertising continues to be effective and proportionate, particularly when it comes to protecting children.

These latest measures follow work we’ve undertaken over the past six months to carefully assess complaints statistics and decisions in this area. Overall, we consider that food and soft drink advertising is under control and that the rules are working effectively.

However, in light of changes to our remit online and advances in digital media, we are taking the following steps to check our position and make sure we continue to regulate appropriately:

  • We have commissioned Dr Barbie Clarke and Family Kids and Youth to carry out a comprehensive literature review of the impact of digital and online marketing of food and drink products to children. The review will explore the extent of the available evidence and assess what conclusions can reasonably be drawn from it
  • The ASA will undertake a survey of food ads, with a focus online, to assess whether there are any problem areas and to take action to bring advertising that breaks the rules into line

We’re also committed to helping advertisers stick to the rules.

  • Today we’ve published an updated Help Note on Food and soft drink product advertisements and children to give advertisers greater clarity on how to comply with the rules, particularly in the online and digital environment.

The food advertising rules are designed to make sure that food and drink is promoted responsibly and ads don’t encourage poor nutritional habits, such as excessive consumption or unhealthy lifestyles. Although the number of complaints the ASA receives from members of the public about food ads is low, we recognise that the impact of food advertising is part of a wider public health debate about current levels of obesity.

These latest steps are a demonstration of our on-going commitment to responsible regulation and are timely given the recent extension of our remit and changes in media use.

Last updated 25/02/2014

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