What you need to know about CAP Code’s new food rules – HFSS

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New food rules HFSS: Junk food advertising will soon be hit by a ban across all media aimed at children both on and offline. Last week the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) set out their ‘tough’ new rules relating to the advertising of HFFS or high fat, salt or sugar food and drink products to children. Find out what you need to know to avoid getting your brand into trouble.

Why all the fuss?

Last October, as part of David Cameron’s strategy to tackle the problem of childhood obesity the government compiled a report which found that obesity costs the NHS over £5bn a year. Amongst calls for a ‘sugar tax’ and a crackdown on two-for-one supermarket deals one of the recommendations of the report was to:
“Significantly reduce opportunities to market and advertise high-sugar food and drink products to children and adults across all media including digital platforms and through sponsorship.”

This led to a consultation in May by CAP to examine whether HFSS advertising should be banned in media that appeals to children. CAP Chairman, James Best, stated that “Too many children in the UK are growing up overweight or even obese, potentially damaging their health in later life and imposing a high cost on society. Advertising is just one small factor in a very complex equation but we believe we can play a positive part in addressing an urgent societal challenge.”

The outcome of the consultation was CAP’s new rules and changes to existing guidance.

So, what is now banned?

  •  Directly or indirectly advertising HFSS products in children’s media
  • Posting adverts for HFSS products in any media where children make up 25% of the audience
  • Using promotions, licensed characters or celebrities who are popular with children in advertisements for HFSS products but these options may be used to promote healthier options

What, where and when?

  • To work out which food and drinks are banned, brands must use the Nutrient Profiling (NP) model which was developed in 2005 by the Food Standards Agency as a tool to help Ofcom differentiate between foods and improve the balance of TV advertising aimed at children. It uses a scoring system to indicate if a food or drink can be promoted to children at all.
  • Any source where children under the age of 16 can be targeted will be affected – from traditional children’s media such as comics, magazines and cinema to online spaces such as social networks, gaming and apps across all devices and technology popular with children. This brings non-broadcast media into line with TV rules introduced in 2007 restricting the advertising of junk food during children’s television programmes.
  • The ban will begin on 1st July 2017.

Critics have suggested that the rules don’t go far enough and have called for restrictions to be extended to programmes that are popular with younger audiences such as Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor that fall outside of the new children’s media restrictions. Concerns are that the 25% audience rule would not be sufficient to avoid dangerous exposure.

Regardless of this, the fact remains that rules relating to children and the media will become increasingly restrictive as brands and advertisers spend more and more time and money targeting this lucrative market.  To prevent your future promotions from breaking the rules or for advice on shaping and implementing promotions anywhere in the world contact Gemma Cutting on +44 (0) 203 325 6000 or email info@promoveritas.com.





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