Unilever pulls ice cream ad aimed at kids after ad watchdog ban

Unilever has pulled an ad for Paddle Pop Twirly Pop after complaints that the ad encouraged young children to eat unhealthy foods were upheld by the Advertising Standards Bureau.

Paddle Pop twirly pop ad

The ad features two children who find a Paddle Pop Twirly Pop in a treasure chest. When the young boy opens the chest and eats the Paddle Pop, he transforms into a lion who defeats another animated character.

The ad’s tagline reads ‘True heroes balance energy intake and activity. Enjoy Paddle Pop as a treat within a balanced diet.’

However the Obesity Policy Coalition complained the ad breached the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative.

As a member of the initiative, Unilever is not allowed to advertise its products to children under 12 “unless those products represent healthier dietary choices, consistent with established scientific or Australian government standards.”

The complainant said Unilever broke its commitment to the RCMI because the ad was “a communication directed primarily to children,” it did not represent a “healthier dietary choice” and it did not promote “healthy dietary habits or physical activity.”

Unilever acknowledged the TVC was intended primarily for children and was subject to the RCMI, but disagreed with the OPC’s complaint the TVC breached the initiative.

“Contrary to the Complaint’s suggestion, Unilever submits that the TVC goes well beyond the ‘mere suggestion’ of physical activity and/or adventure through its depiction of both sporting and adventure activity throughout the TVC,” the global FMCG giant added.

Unilever also noted the TVC was not released on “free to air television.”

The ASB considered whether the ad breached the AANA and AFGC children’s marketing initiatives, considering theme, language and visuals, as well as whether the product was a healthier dietary choice product.

The Board ruled the product as a RED food, according to the National Healthy School Canteens Guidelines.

“On the basis of the confirmation by the Independent Arbiter that the product does not meet the criteria for a healthier choice product, the Board considered that the product is not a healthier dietary choice and is not permitted to be advertised to children under 12,” the ad watchdog said.

The ASB agreed the ad was in breach of the RCMI and ordered Unilever to take it down.

“As part of our ongoing commitment to the RCMI and the review process under the ASB, we accept the decision of the independent arbiter and will ensure that appropriate steps are taken to comply with the decision,” Unilever said in a response.

“The TVC will not be rebroadcast and we are in the process of removing it from YouTube. We will also update the Product’s classification in line with this decision.”


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