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Statement on Scottish Government proposals for a PAS on food and drink marketing

IPM supports industry bodies' stance on Scottish proposals for restrictions on food and drink marketing

The IPM has supported the decision by The Scottish Food and Drink Federation, the British Retail Corporation, the British Soft Drinks Association and the Advertising Association to end talks with the Scottish Government and the British Standards Institute over proposals for ‘voluntary’ restrictions on the marketing of High Fat Salt Sugar products.

The exact details are not available, but it is understood that the Scottish Government was looking for an effective ban on the use of BOGOFs and certain other promotional techniques, as well as limits on in-store displays and other in-store marketing. 

The IPM is fully supporting the industry representatives’ stance, and, through its membership of the Advertising Association, has been monitoring developments. 

Becky Munday, chairman of the IPM, says: “While I wholeheartedly agree that we need to look at the whole issue of the nation’s diet and lifestyle, banning BOGOFs won’t stop people eating unhealthily and not taking enough exercise.” 

Munday continues: “What is needed instead is for Government, industry and health experts to work together – as they have been – to make sure that food and drink marketing is responsible, that it does not encourage over-consumption and that wherever possible it carries an educational message encouraging people to change their habits for the better.” 

The Scottish Government announced in May 2013 that it would be working with the BSI and food and drink companies to introduce a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) for the marketing of food and drink, which it said would probably be introduced by summer 2014. 

At the time, the Scottish Government said that an independent consultation process would involve the food and drink industry, advertising organisations, and health and consumer groups and that “food businesses… will play prominent roles in the Steering Group and Expert Panel that will be created to guide and inform the process of creating a Standard.” 

The industry representatives now say that while they will still work with the Scottish Government on other initiatives aimed at improving Scotland’s diet, they believe the PAS proposals have no basis in evidence, would impose unnecessary red tape, could damage businesses and might push food prices up. 

Terry Jones, director of communications at the FDF, says: “Food and drink manufacturers follow strict codes on advertising and marketing. There is no evidence to show that the prescriptive approach suggested would have a positive impact on public health.” 

One of the IPM’s key functions is monitoring potential threats and opportunities for promotional marketing both in the UK and abroad, and lobbying where necessary. The IPM is a member of the UK Advertising Association, and its chairman sits on the AA Council. 

Working with the AA and the other marketing industry bodies which are members of it, the IPM lobbies on behalf of its members’ interests and those of the wider promotional marketing industry with Governments in the UK and Europe. 

In Europe, the IPM is also a member of the Integrated Marketing Communications Council of the European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA), which enables it to lobby more effectively on a pan-European basis.