HFSS: Advertisers Condemn ‘Outright Ban’ Of Online Advertising

Advertisers have condemned a Government proposal to ban the advertising of high fat, salt, and sugar food and drink online which will deal a huge blow to UK advertising “at a time when it is reeling from the impact of Covid-19.”

Reacting to the publication of the Government’s consultation, the leaders of the Advertising Association, ISBA, IPA and IAB  issued a joint statement outlining their concern about the proposals, the consultation process and the wider social and economic context surrounding the ban.

They said: “Obesity is rightly recognised by the public and by health experts as a complex problem, and one for which there is no single answer. But the proposal to completely outlaw online advertising of certain food and drink is a severe and disproportionate measure that goes far beyond the Government’s objective of protecting children. Instead, it will do untold harm to the UK’s vitally important creative sector and food and drink businesses at an economically precarious time.

“The advertising sector is a proven engine of the UK economy, and we would urge ministers not to damage the jobs and tax revenue it creates. Beyond these direct benefits, the UK’s world-leading advertising sector also underpins the success of the food and drink industry – itself the UK’s largest manufacturing sector.

“The Government is setting out headline-grabbing proposals, but we are far from convinced that they have made the case, or set out the evidence for, a heavy-handed intervention of this kind. We urge Ministers to start engaging meaningfully with industry now, and to develop evidenced solutions that are targeted at the problem they wish to address, appropriate to digital media and fit for the 21st century.

“If this policy of an outright ban goes ahead, it will deal a huge blow to UK advertising at a time when it is reeling from the impact of Covid-19. This consultation has landed just as we have entered another period of lockdown, with all the heightened uncertainty this creates for people and businesses right across the country.

The News Media Association is a member of the AA.