Jamie Oliver’s #AdEnough campaign still matters 12,000 miles away

Ex-adlander Jonathan Pangu has #AdEnough of Australia’s apathetic attitude towards junk food advertising.

I’ve written before about the smell of fear creeping into junk food advertising.

The update for Aussie Maccas, KFC and others?

Things are getting worse.

Sorry lads, but the truth is you’ve never had it as good as you’ve got it right now, and it’s never going to get this good again.

These are the last days of the Roman Empire, so bang out some massive nugget deals and secure that last sponsorship of a major sporting event, because the world is changing.

In 10 years’ time you’ll be misty eyed about ‘the good old days’ when you could do and say what you wanted, while the rest of us will be wondering how anyone ever thought any of that was OK. If you want to know what that feels like, ask your LinkedIn friends from tobacco.

Your latest problem comes from Jamie Oliver. Fresh off the back of the UK’s sugar tax, Jamie’s now mobilising people to stop junk food advertising to kids. The British government are teetering on the brink of legislation and Jamie and co are going to help them over the line.

#AdEnough is asking for a 9pm watershed on TV advertising and other restrictions online and out of home. The campaign asks people to post a selfie online covering their eyes, representing the only ad blocker kids currently have. The campaign has celebrity backers and a lot of press coverage, in the UK and internationally.

Globablisation used to be just about the benefits to business of scale and consistency. As those businesses are finding out, today it’s a two-way street. Campaigns, public consciousness and public policy also flow between countries, and right now that’s where the energy is.

Progressive countries (didn’t we used to be one of those?) have already implemented restrictions on advertising to children. There’s concrete data about the impact that restrictions have on consumption and obesity. These are the things that even the most risk-averse, decision-averse politicians are forced to eventually look at and, eventually, that will make an irrefutable argument.

Policy to control our Australian food environment is coming. Whether that’s packaging, price, promotion, product, or all of the above, it’s being done in other parts of the world already. Every single week the data is accumulating.

As the old tech saying goes: “The future’s here, it just unevenly distributed”. Every time a campaign like this washes onto our shores, it’s a flare that goes up demanding attention and a reminder that this issue is real, is global and won’t just go away.

I’d love to see the graph that maps big food’s spend on lobbyists, corporate affairs and biased research against the line tracking the rise in obesity.

They would arc skywards together, but the strategy is unsustainable. Again, the parallels with tobacco are unquestionable. If you find parallels with tobacco consistently occurring in your industry, it’s time to have a talk to yourself, as NAB might say.

#AdEnough started the same week that the University of Adelaide published the largest ever study into how much kids are exposed to TV advertising of unhealthy food. 80 minutes of daily TV in Australia equates to 800 ads for unhealthy foods per year, and there’s 2.3 times more unhealthy food advertised than healthy.

The Heart Foundation, backed by The World Health Organisation, are calling for regulation.

It was also the same week that Gordon Ramsay, the carnivore-in-chief, announced he was “giving the vegan thing a try”. Times truly are changing.

The Aussie fast food industry might think Jamie Oliver is far away, but the global winds that have bought them such success are the same winds that will help to hold them to account now.

Nuggets, anyone?

Jonathan Pangu is founder of Death to Nuggets (@deathtonuggets), a project to improve children’s relationship with food.


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