Food campaigners slam weak plans for regulation of online marketing

The Children's Food Campaign warns that the Advertising Standards Authority's plans to cover non-paid-for marketing on company and social networking sites are too weak to protect children from junk food marketers.

Children's Food Campaign





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Children's health campaigners warned today that the Advertising Standards Authority's new remit to cover companies' “own marketing communications on their own websites” and “other non-paid-for space online under their control”, such as social networking sites, will be too weak to protect children from junk food marketers.

Children's Food Campaign Coordinator Christine Haigh, said:

“Extending regulation to online marketing is years overdue.  Sadly though, these voluntary standards lack the strength or enforcement measures needed to protect children from sophisticated junk food marketing.  The rules are open to interpretation, and are only applied if a complaint is made, with guilty marketers facing very limited sanctions." 

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Notes to editors:

1. The Children's Food Campaign wants to improve children's health and well-being through better food - and food teaching - in schools, and protecting children from junk food marketing. We are coordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, supported by over 150 national organisations and funded by the British Heart Foundation.

2. A document detailing the new remit and sanctions is available at  As for non-broadcast advertising, there is no pre-vetting of adverts: adjudications only take place after a complaint to the ASA.  The proposed new sanctions rely on the ASA highlighting an adjudication, or the removal of paid-for adverts that link to the page hosting the non-compliant marketing communication, which will require search engine agreement. 

3. One example of irresponsible digital advertising is Coca-Cola's recent promotion which updated a 14-year-old's Facebook status with reference to a pornographic film.  See:

4. For more information on our proposals for protecting children from junk food marketing, visit or download our report, Protecting children from unhealthy food marketing, from




Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.