Tony the Tiger, a Minion and Olaf the snowman from Disney’s Frozen were among those who protested outside the Committee of Advertising Practice’s offices today (12 July) to call for an end to “child friendly” and licensed characters being used to promote products that are high in sugar and salt.
The PR stunt, organised by the Children’s Food Campaign, saw the characters present a ‘Thank You’ card to the advertising regulator for allowing them to keep their ‘jobs’ as brand mascots.
The move comes as CAP, which sets codes of practice for all media ads in the UK except TV or radio spots, is continuing an ongoing consultation which seeks to limit advertising unhealthy food to kids.
The Children’s Food Campaign believed the regulator has so far failed to crack down on several “glaring loopholes” in current marketing rules around junk food by not covering the use of brand characters or packaging.
Co-ordinator of the initiative, Malcolm Clark, who handed a letter to a CAP outside its HQ calling for change, said: “It is hard to resist the pester power when your child is swept up in the latest children’s animation or film craze, or spots an appealing cartoon character on a sugary product’s packaging or online marketing.
“Film and character licensing has become a £250m vehicle for encouraging excessive sugar consumption in children, and that needs to stop, along with the use of child-friendly brand characters on less healthy products.”
The Children’s Food Campaign has previously singled out Universal Film’s yellow Minion characters as the “worst offender” for signing junk food licensing deals.
There is ongoing debate in the industry about the way food with high sugar and salt content is marketed to children. Ofcom has had a blanket ban in place on junk food ads around kids programming for a decade but just last week Cancer Research said this “wasn’t enough” calling for a ban on junk food advertising on TV before 9pm.
The current CAP consultation on junk food advertising will close on 22 July.