Our take on the government’s latest HFSS online ad ban

Last week, the UK government released its consultation on a total online advertising ban for HFSS (high in fat, salt and sugar) food and drink. This follows July’s plan for a pre-watershed ban on TV as part of the government’s tackling obesity strategy – but goes further than that, proposing a total ban of online advertising of HFSS products, irrespective of any age- or time-targeting capabilities of the online media.

The blanket ban, as opposed to a watershed approach to protect children, is disappointing and represents a vote of no confidence in the advertising and food industries in a number of ways.

  1. The impact assessment predicts the ban will cost online media owners £4.6bn in lost revenue, while ad agencies stand to lose £66m
  2. There is no recognition of the ability of the communications sector to drive positive change in the complex area of tackling Britain’s unhealthy lifestyles.
  3.  A whole raft of innovative products from plant-based yoghurts made with coconut to better-for-you snacks such as popcorn will be hit, despite the positive choices these products represent versus their mainstream alternatives, being made with natural and sustainably sourced ingredients, rather than artificial nasties.

In his article for Campaign, which can be read in full here, Ed details these issues, and shares what he sees as a more positive and productive route forward.

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