Outdoor advertising industry ban on 'discretionary food' billboards near schools

By Chris Pash | 24 February 2020
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The outdoor advertising has launched a self regulatory campaign to restrict billboard advertising of unhealthy foods near Australian schools and tackle obesity. 

Peak industry body Outdoor Media Association (OMA)  says the Health and Wellbeing Policy is a world-first to take an active role in limiting the public’s exposure to discretionary food and drinks.

"Almost one in four children is overweight or obese and this complex problem requires a comprehensive set of policies and programs to help Australians lead healthier lives,” says OMA chief executive Charmaine Moldrich.

"As experts in advertising, we want to use the power of out of home (OOH) to make a real difference.”

The industry will also donate up to $3 million each year to promote healthy diets and lifestyle choices on its signs.

The national policy restricts the advertising of discretionary food and drink products on out of home signs within a 150 metre sightline of a school. (140 meters is considered the limit to readability.) 

The policy aims to meet community expectations and support government efforts to tackle overweight and obesity in Australia.

The OMA has consulted with industry, food groups, advertisers, health promotion experts and government and conducted extensive research on Australian and international best practice.

The policy:

  • Discretionary food and drink product advertising to be restricted from areas within 150 metres of a primary orf secondary schools.
  • Food and drink advertising to be based on Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Health Star Rating system.
  • $3 million of  donated advertising space across Australia every year to feature campaigns supporting healthy diet and lifestyle choices.
  • Creative support from the OOH industry to create campaigns to reach the targeted audience.
  • Compliance monitoring of the national restrictions with annual reports provided to state and federal governments.
  • Annual meetings to be held with key industry stakeholders and health promotion experts to assess the restrictions and the educational programs.

“The Health and Wellbeing Policy reflects the fact that the out of home industry has listened to the community and government and pro-actively introduced a new voluntary self-regulating code to address what has become a critical issue in Australian society," says Moldrich.

“The out of home industry is proud to take a leadership position with the world’s first industry-backed, national restriction policy for discretionary food on outdoor advertising."

The OMA consulted with the Australian Food & Grocery Council (AFGC), the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), the Cancer Council, Diabetes Australia and the Heart Foundation on the new policy.

John Broome, CEO of the AANA: “Advocating high ethical and professional standards across Australia’s marketing community is at the centre of the AANA’s work and we support the Outdoor industry’s approach to discretionary food and drink advertising.”

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