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The government’s ban on fast food advertising is causing “consternation” in the industry


The government will push for a ban on HFSS advertising, which will be completely removed from online platforms as of January 2023 and will not be seen on TV until 9 p.m.

It’s tough for an industry just trying to get back on its feet after the pandemic, but there will likely be some loopholes in the announcement that with a bit of creativity should mitigate the blow.

Brand ads are allowed as long as they don’t show pictures of the product. B2B is also slipping through the web, and online advertising is fine in its own (rather than paid) media, so social media accounts aren’t restricted and audio is exempt for some reason, so podcasts are fine. In addition, SMEs with fewer than 250 employees are allowed to advertise HFSS products, and so-called “transactional content” is allowed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is committed to fighting obesity and advertising is an easy target compared to the challenges of getting people to eat healthier meals. Also, the big food companies are less likely to get upset than introducing a fat equivalent to the sugar tax, although it has proven very effective.

Sue Eustace, director of public affairs for the Advertising Association, said: “We are dismayed that the government is continuing its HFSS advertising ban. This means that many food and beverage companies will not be able to promote new product innovations and reformulations, and larger food-on-the-go, pub and restaurant chains may not be able to inform their customers about their menu.

“Content providers – online publishers and broadcasters – will lose critical advertising revenue to finance editorial and programming jobs. We all want healthier, more active populations, but society will not be upgraded by penalizing some of the UK’s most successful industries for having minimal impact on obesity levels. “

Incorporated Society of British Advertisers Director General Phil Smith said: “Advertisers agree that the UK has a problem with obesity and that action needs to be taken. But the government has become tangled in an effort to regulate rather than renew.

“There is no evidence that the ministers’ proposals will have any significant impact on children’s health. The possibilities of technology have been ignored and attempts by industry to achieve the desired result in a way that also avoids economic damage to businesses have been rejected.

“We’ll look into the details, but at a moment when economic recovery and serious, evidence-based policies to improve children’s health are needed, the government seems to be making headlines about major reforms.”


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