Junk food ads face ban across London tube and bus network under Sadiq Khan proposal

The move means certain promotions from fast-food brands like McDonald's, Burger King and KFC could be banned

Ads for food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) are facing off a ban across London's tube and bus network under a new proposal from the city's mayor Sadiq Khan.

The mayor said he was determined to act on childhood obesity, which he described as "ticking timebomb" in the capital.

"It can’t be right that in a city as prosperous as London that where you live and the income you have can have a massive impact on whether you have access to healthy, nutritious food and your exposure to junk food advertising," he added.

The move means certain products from fast-food brands like Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Burger King and KFC could be prevented from appearing across the Transport for London (TfL) estate. Alcohol ads, however, would be excluded from the ban.

Khan has launched a public consultation into the matter as part of his draft London Food Strategy which was published on Friday (11 May).

The report said the mayor wants to make London's streets "healthy places" where people aren't "bombarded" by promotions for unhealthy snacks.

TfL's £1bn advertising estate is handled by Exterion media, the OOH giant told The Drum in a statement: "We are aware of the announcement made today by the Mayor of London. We will be working closely with City Hall and Transport for London throughout the consultation period."

Khan's proposal comes in the midst of the an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigation into how brands market junk food to kids on TV and online.

In 2017, non-broadcast rules around HFSS ads were brought in line with TV and radio procedures, changing so that print, cinema, online TV, social media and outdoor campaigns were restricted in appearing in mediums targeted towards under-16s.

When he was elected in 2016, Khan pledged to ban ads promoting an "unhealthy" or "unrealistic" body image from appearing on London's tube and bus network, but two years on the concept has yet to come to fruition.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.