In August 2018 ASA upheld a complaint from the Obesity Health Alliance about an advert for Coco Pops Granola shown on children’s TV.
While Coco Pops Granola is not a high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) product and not subject to advertising restrictions, the ASA agreed that the advert had the effect of promoting an HFSS product due to use of branding which is highly associated with adverts for other Coco Pops products – some of which are HFSS. These include the Coco the Monkey character – synonymous with the Coco Pops brand, the ‘audio logo’ tune and phrases such as ‘it turns the milk chocolatey. This was an important decision that set a precedent for protecting children from junk food marketing.
After the ASA ruling, Kellogg’s demanded an independent review and ASA have now decided to reverse their original decision.
Caroline Cerny, Alliance Lead, said: “These adverts are designed specifically to appeal to children with fun cartoon characters including the well-known Coco the Monkey and catchy jingles. The original ruling recognised the power of brand advertising and closed a loophole preventing food companies from advertising to children by using characters and music associated with their unhealthy products.
“Following a lobbying effort from Kellogg’s, the industry funded regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority, has rowed back from their original decision. This is what happens when a large multi-national food company uses its legal weight to fight rulings that influence their profits. Sadly the price is the future health of our children. This is just another example of why we need strong Government action to protect children from unhealthy food marketing, starting with a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV.”