Brands should lead health campaigns says Justin King

Justin King, CEO of Sainsbury’s, says the Government should hand full responsibility for public health and sustainability campaigns to brands because they are more trusted by consumers.

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The effectiveness of Government campaigns suffer from a lack of trust in politicians, he says, adding that companies such as Sainsbury’s and Unilever are better placed to encourage consumers to adopt healthier and more sustainable behaviours.

He says that because retailers, including Sainsbury’s and Tesco, are competing over the health agenda by offering healthy options and improving food labelling, the consumer is better informed on the issues.

Speaking at the launch of Forum for the Future’s Consumer Futures 2020 report alongside Unilever UK & Ireland chairman Amanda Sourry, King said:

“Government ads are notoriously poor at changing people’s behaviour on health and sustainability because people don’t trust politicians. I would be delighted if the government would stop advertising and let us do it.”

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley wants brands to help communicate public health messages to help cut Government marketing spend.

Lansley has just published the Government’s latest obesity report, which reiterates the need for industry partnerships to reduce the level of obesity.

The Department of Health has launched the Responsibility Deal with retailers and the food and drink industry to promote healthier lifestyles.

King’s comments are likely to concern public health lobby organisations, which have criticised the Government for handing too much responsibility for public health messages to the private sector.

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