McDonald’s and Burger King ads banned as ASA cracks down on junk food ad placements

However, Kellogg’s and Subway escaped bans because neither of their products were considered to be high in fat, sugar or salt.

junk food

McDonald’s and Burger King have both had adverts banned for targeting children as the ad regulator continues to crack down on brands that break the rules around promoting junk food to children.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned both ads because the outdoor activity was less than 100 metres from a school, which the current guidelines state is the minimum distance junk food ads can be placed near locations with a high proportion of children.

Burger King’s poster, for a Whopper Jr meal deal, was placed at a bus stop close to a primary school in July. The ad showed a whopper burger, fries and a Coca-Cola zero sugar with the tagline ‘A Whopper Jr. of a deal £2.99’.

The products qualified as high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) and Burger King admitted the ad was placed 96 metres from the school and has since removed it.

McDonald’s was investigated for two poster ads but only one was upheld. The first poster was for the Cadbury Flake McFlurry and Mini McFlurry, which was placed close to the entrance of a primary school.

Under current rules, HFSS product ads must not be placed in media where more than 25% of the audience is under-16. McDonald’s argued that the poster would not breach this guideline because estimated audience figures found that around 21.84% of the audience would be under-16.

However, the ASA point out that these figures were only obtained because of the ASA investigation and were not the basis for placing the ad. The ad also did not adhere to the industry 100 metre standard and so was banned.

The second poster, for McDonald’s Belgian Chocolate Honeycomb Iced Frappé, was displayed outside a school nursery. In this case the ASA did not ban the ad because less children attend nurseries, meaning the 25% threshold was not likely to be hit, and it was more than 100 metres from a primary or secondary school.

A McDonald’s spokesperson says: “We take our advertising and marketing responsibilities extremely seriously. That is why we voluntarily ask media owners to ensure none of our outdoor advertising falls within 200 metres of any primary or secondary school, twice the distance accepted as industry standard.

“On this occasion a mistake was made. We have shared our disappointment with JCDecaux, which has apologised for the placement of the advert in question. It was removed as soon as we became aware of the mistake, and we have asked them to review procedures to ensure all possible precautions are taken to meet our voluntary standards.”

READ MORE: The new rules on junk food ads: What marketers need to know

Meanwhile, Subway and Kellogs escaped a ban despite complaints about their ads. A poster ad for Subway’s ‘Sub of the Day’ featuring various sandwich options for each day of the week was placed on a telephone box close to a children’s centre and school.

Despite featuring one sandwich that qualified as HFSS, the poster was only within 100 metres of a children’s centre and not a primary or secondary school so was not upheld.

Kellogg’s received a complaint about a TV ad for Coco Pops Granola that aired during the children’s programme Mr Bean. This was not upheld as Coco Pop’s Granola is not a HFSS product and the ASA felt that there was no attempt to promote the Coco Pop’s brand as a whole only the product.

Camelot has also had an ad banned for placing it near a school, in breach of the rules around gambling advertising.