SYDNEY: An email campaign by the world's biggest food manufacturer, Nestlé, has exposed a loophole in Australia's recently introduced guidelines on marketing to children.

The company sent a letter to youngsters via its Uncle Tobys website suggesting they ask parents to buy the Frubalia Roll-Ups brand for a chance to win a video game machine or MP3 player.

The promotion went unchallenged by the country's Advertising Standards Bureau because the new code does not cover games, viral email campaigns or product websites as they are deemed not to constitute advertising or marketing.

Nestlé itself withdrew the promotion saying it breached its "internal protocols".

The Roll-Ups brand has been in trouble before when the Uncle Tobys website claimed it was "made with 65 per cent real fruit". Subsequently the product was found to contain almost no fresh fruit and was rebranded accordingly.

Public health officials and consumer groups in Australia believe advertisers will shift their marketing activity away from television and on to the internet as a way of avoiding increasing scrutiny.

Jane Martin, senior policy adviser at the Obesity Policy Coalition, who made the initial complaint about the Roll-Ups promotion, said the loophole should have been closed long ago.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff