M&S, Asda & Lidl junk food ads banned

Asda Christmas Savings card bonuses customer loyalty
Asda aims to encourage customers to save money & collect bonuses with the Christmas savings card (Image: Shutterstock)
// Food & drink companies have been found breaching advertising rules
// Junk food ads have been banned after they were discovered on children’s websites & Youtube channels
// Companies used child avatars to find ads with food & drink products high in fat, salt & sugar

Asda, Marks & Spencer, and Lidl are among the many food & drink companies whose junk food advertisements have been banned after breaching advertising rules.

The junk food ads were discovered on children’s websites, as well as Youtube channels, and were officially banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA found that the companies had used child avatars to find advertisements featuring food & drink products which were high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).

Meanwhile, 2.3 per cent of the 41,030 ads that the monitoring found was for HSFF products and were aimed at child avatars.

Over two weeks in the run-up to Christmas last year, the ASA found information on online junk food ads that featured on 210 websites and 87 YouTube channels in non-logged-in environments.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) asked the companies to take measures in making sure that the ads would no longer appear on the websites.

The CAP has also contacted YouTube to ensure all companies would avoid breaching the rules.

“We’ll take action in respect of any ad for high fat, salt or sugar food and soft drinks which is found to be directed inappropriately at children,” ASA chief executive Guy Parker said.

Google spokesman Michael Todd said: “If we discover ads that break our policies, we take swift action.

“We’re reviewing the findings of the report and will continue to work with the ASA, as well as providing materials and training to advertisers so that they can reach the right audience on YouTube.”

BRC director of food & sustainability Andrew Opie said: “The ASA report is clear that retailers were compliant with the CAP rules on advertising to children, and were not found to be actively targeting children with HFSS food adverts.

“However, it is clear that some platforms, such as YouTube, need to work more closely with retailers to ensure that such advertising does not end up being shown to younger audiences.”

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