A heated debate over the use of “sub-brands” associated with the Government’s anti-obesity public health campaign Change4Life has broken out between business and health partner organisations, Marketing Week has learned.
Partner companies such as Britvic Soft Drinks, Cadbury and Kellogg have signed up to invest in initiatives such as Breakfast4Life and Play4Life but are now finding their plans are being stalled by confusion over how much they should be allowed to use campaign branding.
Health bodies represented by the National Heart Forum are seeking to stop companies using Change4Life-associated branding on food products they deem as unhealthy. They believe it could send a message that products such as Tango, Coco Pops and Mars bars have been endorsed as healthy by the campaign, according to a source close to the negotiations.
They argue that associated brands constitute a “health mark” and would send confusing messages to consumers.
Guidance issued when the Change4Life advertising campaign launched in January stated that the campaign brand could not be used by partners on products in order to meet such concerns.
However, similar guidance on sub-brands has not been issued. Company umbrella organisation Business4Life says partners signed up to help the Government get its core message about healthy lives to as many people as possible, so would expect to include on-pack promotion.
Business4Life marketing director Jane Holdsworth adds: “There was always agreement that Change4Life would never be considered to be a health mark, but the guidance does not cover the use of sub-brands to appear on pack.”
The Department of Health is expected to unveil the next phase of its three-year £75m Change4Life marketing push at a conference on tackling obesity tomorrow (Thursday March 26).
The National Heart Forum was unavailable for comment.