British Agencies Fight Total Ban on TV Junk Food Ads

12 February 2007

LONDON: Britain's Institute of Practitioners in Advertising - the official body representing British advertising, media and marketing communications agencies - is up in arms at the government's latest attempt to impose a total ban on TV advertising of HFSS (high in fat, salt, and sugar) foods.

In addition to the recent imposition of controls on advertising such foods prior to 9pm [WARC News: 20-Nov-06], New Labour peer Baroness Glenys Thornton will on Tuesday introduce a draconian new bill calling for a blanket ban of HFSS foods on UK television - irrespective of the time or audience.

IPA legal director Marina Palomba calls Thornton's bill misguided, arguing it to be " unnecessary given the stringent new rules restricting the advertising of HFSS foods in or around children's programming."

"This call is totally disproportionate and contrary to all the evidence that such a ban would benefit children and consumers," she said.

Continued Palomba: "We are disappointed that the supporters of the Bill, such as Sustain, are refusing to act within the spirit of co-operation that [communications regulator] Ofcom and the government are seeking. [As] the new restrictions come into full force in July this year, introducing the Bill at this juncture is therefore blatantly unnecessary."

The IPA is additionally concerned about the Food Standards Agency's definition of HFSS foods and, in particular, its insistence on measuring all content in portions of 100 grams irrespective of the average portion size consumed.

It cites, as an example of this illogicality, Marmite yeast extract which, although high in salt, has a strong and distinctive taste that compels all but the leather-tongued to spread it extremely sparingly.

Data sourced from: Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (UK); additional content by WARC staff