AANA responds to OPC’s claims new ad code ‘fails to protect children from unhealthy food marketing’

The Obesity Policy Coalition warned last week the advertising industry’s new code is failing to protect kids from unhealthy food marketing after an Oreo cookies ad shown during the Lego Masters finale was found not to target children despite appearing in one of Australia’s most popular general entertainment shows for children.

In response to the claim, the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) has today released a response supporting the effectiveness of the new Food & Beverage Advertising Code.

The union said: “The AANA is confident that its new Food & Beverage Advertising Code is in line with community expectations and provides strong regulation around the advertising of occasional food to children,” while also citing the new code was developed following a broad cross-community consultation.

AANA CEO, Julie Flynn, said: “The Food & Beverage Code is progressive and strikes a balance between addressing community concern and advertisers’ right to advertise responsibly”.

Meanwhile, the AANA said the new Code establishes world-first independent common nutrition criteria to determine what is healthy food or drink. It provides positive incentives around advertising healthy food at all times and is a major step forward in ensuring that the regulation of occasional food is appropriate.

Moreover, the union said that under the new Code child audiences can now only make up 25% of the viewing audience; reduced from 35% previously. The complaint against the Oreo ad was not upheld because it is compliant with the new Code, with a child audience well below the threshold.

The AANA Food & Beverages Code provides that advertising of occasional food and beverage products must not target children under 15, with criteria/issues that must be met. This standard determines whether an advertisement targets children where the expected average audience will be 25% or more children and the program holds significant appeal for them.

Last week, OPC argued that the Oreo cookies ad targeted children in three ways: the advertised product, Oreo, significantly appeals to children; the ad is designed in a way that principally appeals to
children; and it was screened during the Lego Masters finale when children would be a significant proportion of the audience, based on the nature of the program and the high number of children watching.

The Panel agreed that Oreo cookies had significant appeal to children, but considered the theme aimed more at adults than children by reminding them to “stay playful”. The Panel considered this messaging, combined with unchildlike visuals and music would be unlikely to be principally appealing to children under 15. It also determined that the advertisement did not meet the audience threshold of 25% of children aged under 15 years. It determined that the ad did not breach the code and dismissed the complaint.


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