Kellogg’s pulls TV ads after Obesity Policy Coalition complaint

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th July 2013

Cereal manufacturer Kellogg’s Australia has been forced to withdraw two television advertisements after a complaint from health advocacy group the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) was upheld by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB).

The ASB found the two variants of advertisements for Kellogg’s LCM product, featuring animated dinosaurs, snails, children’s voices and fantasy themes, were “directed primarily to children” and were therefore in breach of the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI). As a signatory to the RCMI code, Kellogg’s has agreed not to advertise product to children under 12 years unless they “represent healthy dietary choices”.

The ruling comes just two weeks after Kellogg’s was forced to withdraw a television advertisement for cereal brand Coco Pops after a similar complaint by the OPC was upheld by the ASB.

Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative details

The Australian food and beverage industry, through the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), developed the Reponsible Children’s Marketing Initiative to demonstrate its commitment to responsible marketing of foods and beverages to children.

The AFGC said the goal of the initiative was to ensure that a “high level of social responsibility in marketing communication and marketing food and beverage products in Australia is maintained”. The agreement provides a framework for food and beverage companies to “help promote healthy dietary choices and lifestyles to Australian children”.

The Initiative was developed in collaboration with the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) as part of the system of advertising and marketing self-regulation in Australia. It is supported by major food and beverage manufacturers, AANA, other industry groups and the Australian Publishers’ Bureau. It came into effect from 1 January 2009.

Kellogg’s Australia is one of  17 Australian food and beverage companies who are signatories to the Initiative.

OPC says ad withdrawal a ‘win’ for parents and children

The OPC said the ruling from the ABS was a “win” for parents and children.

“As we pointed out with our previous complaint of Coco Pops, LCM Original Bars are very high in sugar, saturated fat and kilojoules (1720kj/100gms),” said Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the OPC. “They definitely do not represent a health or nutritious choice for children,” she said.

The OPC said advertisements that use cartoon characters and ‘fantasy’ create “pester power”, which “undermines the efforts of parents and educators”.

“This is the second time in as many weeks the ASB has upheld these complaints by the OPC against Kellogg’s, and is a really encouraging result,” Ms Martin said.

Link between advertising and obesity controversial

But the effect of advertising on obesity levels is the topic of continued debate. In November 2012, Australian Food News reported that the Australian advertising industry had said the causes of obesity were complex, and the link between advertising and health problems was not clear.

Core Principles of RCMI

The RCMI, which is publicly available on the AFGC website, lists the core principles of the agreement as:

Advertising and Marketing Messaging

S1.1. Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children for food and/or beverages must:

a. Represent healthier dietary choices, consistent with established scientific or Australian government standards, as detailed in Signatories’ Company Action Plan; and

b. Reference, or be in the context of, a healthy lifestyle, designed to appeal to Children through messaging that encourages: i. Good dietary habits, consistent with established scientific or government standards; and

ii. Physical activity.

Product Placement

S1.2. Signatories must not pay for the placement of, or actively seek to place, food and/or beverage products in the program or editorial content of any Medium directed primarily to Children unless such food and/or beverage products are consistent with S1.1.

Use of Products in Interactive Games

S1.3. Signatories must ensure that any interactive game directed primarily to Children which includes the Signatory’s food and/or beverage products is consistent with S1.1.

Advertising in Schools, Pre-Schools and Day Care Centres

S1.4. Signatories must not engage in any Advertising and Marketing Communication to Children in Australian primary schools, pre schools and day care centres, except where specifically requested by, or agreed with, the school administration for educational or informational purposes, or related to healthy lifestyle activities under the supervision of the school administration or appropriate adults.

Kellogg's has dropped TV ads