The Advertising Association (AA) is calling on new prime minister Boris Johnson and his government to rethink proposals to restrict junk food advertising.
In a letter to Johnson, the AA says that while it fully supports the government’s aim to reduce childhood obesity by 2050 it believes current plans for “onerous” restrictions on high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) food and soft drinks advertising will not help. It cites analysis that shows the proposed rules would remove only 1.7 calories per day from children’s diets – equivalent to half a Smartie a day – while cost more than £1bn in GDP.
“We ask you to halt these plans and to look instead at more efficient ways to achieve a healthier Britain through measures appropriately targeted on the problem,” says AA CEO Stephen Woodford.
“As in online regulation, it is our firm believe that working in partnership with industry gets better result, and on the obesity strategy we urge a more collaborative approach.”
The letter points to work the advertising and media sector is already doing to support healthy lifestyle messaging. This includes The Daily Mile, an initiative sponsored by ITV to encourage children to get out of the classroom and run or jog for 15 minutes every day, as well as the campaign ‘Eat them to defeat them’ run by ITV and all the major supermarkets that is encouraging children to eat more vegetables.
The AA is also hoping the new government will work with industry to create a digital charter that will introduce a regulatory framework for digital tech businesses and online advertising. Currently, the department for culture, media and sport, as well as regulators the Competition and Markets Authority, Information Commissioner’s Office and Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation are all conducting reviews on how to make the UK the ‘safest place to be online’.
“By most measures, the UK has the most developed digital and online advertising market in the world and so, by working together, we are well placed to lead in this vital area for our economy and society,” adds Woodford.
Achieving a deal with the EU that allows for the free flow of services across borders is also of paramount importance for the AA. “As a minimum”, the AA wants to see an agreement on cross-border personal data flows, a flexible migration system, and arrangements that allow agencies and production crews to travel easily to and from Europe, as well as international broadcasters to access European markets using the UK as a global hub.
Woodfood says: “As we exit the EU, it is vital that we ensure the UK remains a magnet for investment by digital and technology businesses, and that we continue to be a place where broadcasters and other media can establish themselves, hire people, and thrive as businesses.”