The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed a complaint
alleging that a cereal advertisement shown at the beginning of a “U-rated”
film “condoned or encouraged poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy
lifestyle in children” and “disparaged good dietary practice.” Although Kellogg
Marketing and Sales Company (UK) Ltd. included on-screen text stating the
sugar content of the product and emphasizing the importance of a varied
diet and lifestyle, ASA argued that the Coco Pops Rocks ad in question, which
featured brand equity characters and aired before a movie, would appeal to
children, “who would not have the reading comprehension skills or relevant
knowledge to be able to interpret and understand the information about the
sugar content of the product and that it should be eaten as part of a varied
diet and active lifestyle.”

“We also considered that, in the context of the exciting action in the visuals
of the ad, it was unlikely that even those children with the ability to read
and understand the on-screen text would pay attention to the information,
which was contained in small print at the bottom of the screen,” noted ASA.
“We considered the information in the small print was unlikely to mitigate the
appeal of the product to children in the audience, or make clear to them that
the product should only be eaten in moderation.”

These caveats notwithstanding, ASA ultimately ruled that the ad “included
only one brief shot of two of the characters holding bowls and eating a
mouthful of the cereal. There was no suggestion that it was appropriate to
consume the product frequently or in excess or that an inactive or sedentary
lifestyle was better than physical activity.” As a result, the agency found that
the ad did not breach CAP Code rules 15.11 and 15.12 (Diet and Lifestyle).


Issue 523

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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