Food brands face censure over online ads

Food brands are facing further scrutiny over online advertising as health campaigners file a “super-complaint” to the advertising watchdog.

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The Advertising Standards Authority says it will “carefully and thoroughly” assess the concerns raised by The Children’s Food Campaign (CFC) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to establish whether there are grounds for an investigation.

The charity groups have filed 54 separate complaints to the ASA accusing food brands such as Kerry Foods and Cadbury of targeting children with online advertising for “junk food”.

The campaign group wants there to be new legislation with stricter rules on what can, and cannot, be advertised online.

CFC spokeswoman Kather Hashem says: ”The pervasive nature of online junk food marketing to children really leaves us with no choice but to submit this ‘super-complaint’. It is time for the ASA to face the music: will it or will it not act to protect children from cynical junk food marketing practices?”

The complaints to the ASA follow a joint report published by the CFC and BHF in December.

In December, the Advertising Association slammed the report for clouding the debate around online advertising with “hyperbole” and “manipulating” the facts.

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