Sustain, the lobby group co-ordinating the campaign against “junk” food ads, has called on the Government to abolish ad industry self-regulation and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which supervises it.
Richard Watts, campaign co-ordinator for The Children’s Food Campaign at Sustain, says: “The Advertising Standards Authority is an industry-run body, enforcing an advertising code drawn up by the industry. The sooner we break up this cosy little monopoly the better. Children deserve decent protection from junk food advertising, and they are not going to get it from the ASA and their industry chums.”
Sustain hit out as the ASA rejected its complaint that a television ad for Burger King’s Double Whopper burger – created by US agency Crispin Porter Bogusky – encouraged excessive consumption of unhealthy food and also put pressure on boys to consume burgers in order to be seen as “manly”.
The ASA has told Burger King not to run the ad again in its current form, but only because of the misleading size of the burger shown in the ad, rather than any health concerns. The ASA measured a Double Whopper against the on-screen image, and concluded that the TV version appears much bigger than the burger really is.
The “I am man” TV ad showed men rejecting salads and similar foods in favour of meat and burgers. It starts with a character expressing his disappointment over the food served him in a restaurant and singing of his preference for Double Whoppers. He leaves the restaurant and is joined by more and more men, ending in a protest-style march with men holding banners reading “Eat this meat” and “I am man”. A voiceover says: “The Double Whopper. Man, that’s a lot of meat.”
The ASA launched an investigation into the ad in November last year after complaints from a number of health groups and members of the public. The regulator did not uphold the complaints after ruling that the burger was not unhealthy according to Food Standards Agency definitions.