New food rules for non-broadcast ads

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), the body responsible for writing the UK non-broadcast advertising code, has announced new rules for food and soft drink product advertisements to children. The new rules, designed to help protect children’s health, recognise and respond to public concern about rising levels of childhood obesity. The rules will come into force on 1 July 2007.

In summary, the new rules state that advertisements for food or soft drink products should not:

- Condone or encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle in children
- Encourage excessive consumption of food or drink products
- Use promotional offers in an irresponsible way
- Use “high pressure” or “hard sell” techniques
- Use licensed characters or celebrities popular with children if targeted directly at pre-school or primary school children
- Give a misleading impression of the nutritional health benefits of the product.
- The rules provide for fresh fruit or fresh vegetables to be advertised using techniques restricted for other food or drink products.

The new rules protect all children, defined as persons under 16. In recognition of the Government’s concern to target regulatory measures at primary school children, CAP has placed tougher restrictions on food or drink product ads that are directly targeted at primary school or pre-school children through their content. As a result, the rules ban the use of celebrities and licensed characters, promotional offers and health or nutrition claims in food or drink advertisements directly targeted at those age groups through their content.

CAP has produced the new rules in response to the Department of Health’s ‘Choosing Health’ White Paper, which asked for stronger controls on non-broadcast advertising for food and drink products. The rules will come into effect for all non-broadcast campaigns from 1 July to coincide with the coming into effect of stricter TV content rules and will be administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The Chairman of CAP, Andrew Brown, says: “These comprehensive new rules are designed to help protect children’s health while still allowing advertisers an appropriate degree of freedom to promote their products. Childhood obesity and the future of children’s health are of prime concern to all and these measures represent a strong commitment by advertisers to promote all food and drink products responsibly.”

For free advice and guidance on complying with these rules, contact the The Copy Advice Team at


12th April 2007

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