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Ad aimed at children but doesn’t break the rules

Kinder Surprise ad aimed at children says industry regulator, but doesn’t break the rules.

Source: Auckland Regional Public Health Service

A chocolate bar for children, advertised with children and seen by children is not considered to be in breach of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) code for children.

Healthy Auckland Together laid a formal complaint about the Kinder Surprise online video and television commercial which the ASA ruled as "not upheld."

Spokesperson, Dr Michael Hale, says the coalition is disappointed but not surprised by the ruling released today.

The ASA decided that the ad contravened two criteria as it was for an ‘occasional’ food, and it was aimed at children. However the panel ruled that it hadn’t been placed where a ‘significant proportion’ of children would see it, as the ads were not shown in children's content on YouTube.

"Advertisers claim to apply filters so it seems like children aren’t seeing these ads, yet the reality is different. Those under 13 years watch YouTube on their parents’ devices and they watch general content, not just children’s content. They watch this channel daily, it is as popular as TV for this age group.

"The ASA is saying an ad can be obviously appealing to children and marketing junk food, but is okay so long it is not outside the school gates or on after-school television.

"This is one of a number of complaints that show that the ASA puts its members’ interests as advertisers first, not children.

"The previous government required industry to strengthen the Children and Young People's Advertising Code as part of the Childhood Obesity Plan in 2016, yet self-regulation is not working," says Dr Hale

Healthy Auckland Together has identified restricting the marketing of unhealthy food to children is a crucial action to reduce obesity in this age group, says Dr Hale. The coalition is promoting a Toby Morris comic to raise awareness around the impact, asking people to send in junk food ads aimed at children using the hashtag #dumpthejunknz, or complain themselves to show the need for more protection.

A third of children are obese or overweight in New Zealand, making this urgent. "Without independent monitoring, the only way we can test the Code is working is to complain about these type of ads. Even then, there is no penalty, except removing the offending ad.

"Children see 27 promotions for unhealthy food a day. We know this is contributing to the over-consumption of sugary and high fat foods, and to teeth extractions and excessive weight gain," Dr Hale says.

And this has implications for their future health, not least because taste preferences are set in childhood. "We know that children are eating treat food every day. This can make fruit and vegetables taste less appealing," Dr Hale says.

View the ad here.

The Toby Morris comic Junk Messaging is here

Information on the Healthy Auckland Together initiative against the marketing of unhealthy food to children is here.

Healthy Auckland Together is a coalition of agencies from health, local government, iwi and university with the goals of reducing obesity and making physical activity and good nutrition easier for our population. This means working with organisations outside of health to change policies, practices and infrastructure so our neighbourhoods promote wellbeing, rather than undermine it.


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