The watchdog investigated three websites, an app and a YouTube channel for Kinder, after campaign group the Children’s Food Campaign complained. The ASA banned all but one of the websites, which are now unavailable in the UK. The watchdog also banned the brand’s YouTube channel, which has since removed all videos.
Issues included Kinder’s corporate website – which included images of children and adults alongside Kinder products – and the Kindernauts website, which featured a variety of content aimed at children. The Kindernauts website included activities, videos and cartoons, and required that users sign-up to the website for access.
Meanwhile, the Magic Kinder website featured content aimed at children aged three and above, including interactive games, videos activity suggestions and stories. A related app, called Magic kinder, featured further content such as non-interactive stories, colouring in, educational games, quizzes and videos. The app included a section called the ‘Surprisery’, which allowed users to collect virtual Kinder Surprise toys. The Magic Kinder YouTube channel featured a range of videos, including animated shorts similar to those on the Magic Kinder website.
Ferrero UK, which owns Kinder, said it was its policy to direct all marketing communications at adults. It said that the content across the websites, channel and app was aimed at parents and was primarily educational, and that since the websites and app did not directly feature any Kinder products, they could not be considered marketing communications.
While the ASA agreed that Kinder’s corporate website was aimed at adults, the watchdog said that the websites, YouTube channel and app were all in breach of the Advertising Code. While the Kindernauts site did not directly feature Kinder products, because it used Kinder branding it was still working as a promotion for the Kinder brand.
The watchdog said that the Magic Kinder site, channel and app’s promotion of Kinder Surprise toys were a promotion of the Kinder Surprise product. The ASA voiced particular concern about the use of QR codes, which allowed users to gain more virtual Kinder Surprise toys by uploading a code from a real one. The effect, the ASA said, was to directly link the website’s function with the product.
The ASA said that the Kindernauts website, Magic Kinder website, app and YouTube channel must not appear again in their current form. It told Ferrero “to “ensure that HFSS product ads that were targeted through their content at pre-school and primary school children did not include a promotional offer or licensed characters popular with children.”
The action comes following a series of bans under new the ASA’s new HFSS rules. In August, the watchdog banned ads from KFC and Coco Pops. The UK government is eyeing a potential ban of junk food ads before the 9pm watershed.