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CAP Code: New Rules Signify A Positive Change

Wednesday December 7, 2016 at 4:08pm

A positive change: New rules ban the advertising of high fat, salt and sugar food and soft drink products in children’s media

The IPM has a privileged position in the self-regulation of our industry with a seat on the CAP Committee. Our Legal Advisory Service for our Members helps you look at every aspect of your campaigns and promotions from a position of intricate knowledge of the CAP Code and UK Law.

As part of our role at CAP, we involved many of you in the consultation that had been underway for some months regarding how we advertise and market to children and families in direct relation to high fat, salt or sugar products (HFSS) as part of our approach to responsible marketing.  

Following a full public consultation, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has today announced tough new rules banning the advertising of high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) food or soft drink products in children’s media. The rules will apply across all non-broadcast media including in print, cinema and, crucially, online and in social media. 

The rules, which will apply in media targeted at under 16's, will come into effect on 1st July 2017.

To summarise the key changes that will come into force: 

  • Ads that directly or indirectly promote an HFSS product cannot appear in children’s media
  • Ads for HFSS products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience
  • Ads for HFSS products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children; advertisers may now use those techniques to better promote healthier options  
  • The Department of Health nutrient profiling model will be used to classify which products are HFSS

The IPM's Managing Director, Carey Trevill and Member of the CAP Committee, comments "Over the past two years we have seen a shift towards more responsible promotion across the board. Being involved in this consultation has shown that the entire industry embraces this forward thinking approach and we are delighted to support the changes in the CAP Code at the IPM".

This significant change is designed to help protect the health and wellbeing of children.  

Bringing the non-broadcast advertising rules in line with the TV rules, the new restrictions will lead to a major reduction in the number of ads for HFSS food and drinks seen by children. And it will also mean ads for HFSS products will no longer be allowed to appear around TV-like content online, such as on video-sharing platforms or advergames, if they are directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children.  

CAP’s review and the new rules come in response to wider concerns in society about childhood obesity and the public health challenges it poses. The new rules also respond to shifting media habits amongst young people and evolving advertising techniques which have fundamentally changed children’s relationship with media and advertising. Research from Ofcom shows that young people aged 5-15 are spending around 15 hours each week online – overtaking time spent watching a TV set for the first time.                                     

While there are many factors that have an impact on childhood obesity, and available evidence shows that the effect of advertising on children’s food preferences is relatively small, particularly when compared to other factors like parental influences; CAP believes that even a very small positive impact from these new ad restrictions could play a meaningful role in reducing potential harms to children.  

Chairman of CAP, James Best said: “Childhood obesity is a serious and complex issue and one that we’re determined to play our part in tackling. These restrictions will significantly reduce the number of ads for high, fat, salt or sugar products seen by children. Our tough new rules are a clear demonstration that the ad industry is willing and ready to act on its responsibilities and puts the protection of children at the heart of its work.”

The IPM supports this change and will be holding a special webinar on Thursday 15th December, in conjunction with CAP's Regulatory Advisor on the project, Andy Taylor to talk through what these changes mean for you and your campaigns. Register here for the webinar.

If you would like to talk about your campaign and need advice, please contact the IPM's Advisor, Laura Kelly on 020 3848 0444.




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