Department of Health hits out at AA announcement

The Department of Health (DoH) has accused the Advertising Association (AA) of jumping the gun by announcing that snack food and confectionery companies have joined forces with the Government to promote the DoHs Change4Life anti-obesity campaign.

The Department of Health (DoH) has accused the Advertising Association (AA) of “jumping the gun” by announcing that snack food and confectionery companies have joined forces with the Government to promote the DoH’s Change4Life anti-obesity campaign.

A DoH spokeswoman says the Department has not yet given permission to any companies to use the Change4Life logo, which will be unveiled this autumn. She dismisses a claim by Kellogg’s that it has received DoH backing to launch an on-pack promotion called Swim4Life. “We are yet to finalise any terms with them,” she says.

The AA strongly denies the charge. However, Kellogg’s admits that the “deal” is yet to be finalised.

The DoH’s £75m Change≠4Life campaign, created by M&C Saatchi, will run until the London 2012 Olympics and aims to reduce soaring obesity levels. Brands will be allowed to endorse the campaign and use the 4Life logo if they can prove they are promoting both healthy eating and exercise.

The AA announced at last week’s soft launch of Change4Life by Health Secretary Alan Johnson that a consortium of media and food brands had “joined with the Government to form a unique partnership to fight obesity” and would contribute £200m in kind to the campaign. Companies including Cadbury, Mars, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Nestl» and Kraft would “work with the Government to promote healthy lifestyles”.

But a DoH spokeswoman says the Department was taken aback by the AA’s announcement. “It was quite surprising, because we haven’t had conversations with all those companies yet,” she says.

AA chief executive Baroness Peta Buscombe says: “I don’t know why they are saying that. We havebeen planning the announcement with them for months.” She says the AA will sit onthe “final decision-making” committee of the campaign’s Healthy Weight HealthyLives board.

The DoH says proposals by brands to join the campaign will be vetted over the summer by a committee comprising DoH communications chief Sian Jarvis, an ex-GMTV presenter, along with DoH director of health and wellbeing Dr Will Cavendish and nutritionist Dr Susan Jebb.

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