In a landmark ruling, the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint by the Children’s Food Campaign that Nesquik is not a suitable regular breakfast option for children, despite the company’s marketing to the contrary. Nesquik is no longer allowed to claim that it is a “great start to the day”. The complaint stemmed from an advert for Nesquik which appeared on bottles of Asda own-brand milk.
Malcolm Clark, coordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, responding to the ASA's ruling, said:
“Nesquik’s old bunny hasn’t yet learnt new healthier tricks. It is the second time in almost as many years that we have forced Nesquik to change their advertising because it encouraged poor nutritional habits in children and could be seen to mislead parents about the health benefits of such a sugary product.”
“Without stronger rules, more quickly enforced and with higher penalties for repeat offenders, there is little incentive for companies to improve their marketing practices. The Government should no longer leave marketing rules in the hands of industry and advertisers, but take a stronger lead in its forthcoming obesity strategy and introduce tougher restrictions protecting children.”
“Supermarkets also need to step up and take responsibility for the promotions that go on their shelves. Asda and other retailers should follow Tesco’s lead in asking more from the big brands they stock, and not being afraid to remove the most sugary products and promote the healthier alternatives.”
“The ASA’s ruling also provides a timely reminder to Change4Life to keep on challenging their commercial and retail partners, so that their new ‘sugar smart’ public health campaign launching in January is not seen to be undermined by the continued massive skew of marketing towards less healthy products.”
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Children’s Food Campaign / Sustain
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1) The Complaint
In March 2015 the Children’s Food Campaign submitted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about adverts on Asda’s own brand milk labels for Nesquik Hot Chocolate. Those adverts featured an image of the Nesquik bunny stirring a cup of hot chocolate. Text included “For a great start to the day!” and “Nutri-Start Vit D, Zinc, Iron; complementing milk”. The complaint challenged whether the advert encouraged poor nutritional habits in children, in particular through use of the child-friendly equity brand character and the claim “for a great start to the day”.
2) The ASA’s ruling
On 23 December 2015, the ASA issued its ruling upholding this complaint and stating that “the ad should not have appeared at all … and must not appear in its current form.” The ASA considered that the claim ‘for a great start to the day’ was likely to be perceived as a health claim, and that it was not accompanied by a specific authorised health claim – and thus breached the CAP Code marketing rules. The ASA also considered that the combination of the cartoon rabbit (which they considered likely to appeal to children) and the health claims on the advert gave the suggestion that Nesquik was suitable as a regular breakfast option for children. Because the product is high in sugar, with a 200ml serving containing 20.3g of sugar, over half of which is added sugar, this was thus seen to encourage poor nutritional habits in children.
3) Previous complaint against Nesquik by the Children’s Food Campaign
4) The Obesity Stakeholder Group
Children’s Food Campaign is a member of the new alliance of medical, nursing and public health professional bodies and charities which have come together to fight against obesity and its costly consequences for the NHS. The alliance has common policy goals, including on robust restrictions on unhealthy food marketing, a 9pm watershed for TV advertising of junk food, and a sugary drinks tax.
Published 23 Dec 2015
Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.
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