Advertisers hit back at attack on self-regulation

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 3 December 2015

Advertisers have hit back on claims by anti-obesity lobby group that advertisers are taking advantage of loopholes in self-regulation of advertising around marketing to children.

Earlier this week the Obesity Policy Coalition published a report stating that advertisers were ““making, breaking and rewriting the rules” as they see fit and using sneaky tactics to market “junk food” to children.

The industry is governed by strict rules and self regulatory code around what products can and can't be marketer at children, but the OPC dubbed self-regulation a “charade” and called for government to step in with more heavy handed regulations.

In response, the AANA, which represents advertisers and backs strong self regulation, said: “The AANA Codes apply to all advertisers and are technology and platform neutral. They are developed and reviewed with public consultation and community input, and continue to evolve to align with community expectations. The practice notes support the interpretation of the Codes however Advertising Standards Board members are independent of industry and use their own judgement in determining whether an advertisement is in breach, based on the wording of the relevant Code.”

“Over the past three years, complaints to the ASB in relation food & beverage advertising directed to children have been less than one per cent of all complaints received which suggests that such advertising does meet community expectations   Additionally, research conducted for the ASB in 2012 showed there is a high level of understanding within the community about the ability to make a complaint.”

Nikki Lawson, CMO of Yum! Brands which owns fast food chains including KFC, also backed the self regulation of the industry, highlighting that it is in support of the Code and that it has gone further with its own guidelines to ensure that its messages are not reaching children.

She told AdNews: “At KFC Australia we support the Code and self-regulation but we’ve set even stricter parameters for our brand, particularly as it relates to children and marketing. We don’t advertise to children and we don’t advertise our children’s meals.  We’ve also removed toys from our kids meals. This commitment extends beyond marketing as we innovate around our menu – the ingredients we use and our food labelling.”

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