Just Eat, Deliveroo and McDonald’s are among the brands in talks with Transport for London (TfL) to find ways around the looming junk food ad ban, set to come into force next February.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan confirmed in November that the ban of ads for all high fat, salt and sugar food and drink would be enforced by 25 February 2019 as he looks to deal with rising obesity rates.
He claimed the ban of advertising across the capital's transport network had received “overwhelming support” from Londoners. However, industry bodies – including the Advertising Association and ISBA – have opposed the move, saying there is "no clear evidence" that the ban would solve the problem.
Regardless, a number of TfL’s biggest advertisers including Deliveroo, McDonald’s and Just Eat are now in talks over how to continue advertising to the network’s hundreds of millions of annual passengers. Some are reportedly considering legal action.
Takeaway app Just Eat told The Times it had no current plans to launch legal proceedings and was “exploring options” to ensure its advertising worked come February.
Food delivery start-up Deliveroo said it had had “very positive engagement with TfL ahead of the incoming changes”.
Speaking to The Drum earlier this year, ahead of the ban’s introduction, TfL’s top marketer Chris MacLeod said that many big food and drink advertisers had already begun to reformulate their products to lower the fat, sugar and salt content and are opting to promote them in ads instead – meaning they would escape any ban.
He also said that projections a ban would cost the travel body up to £13.3m per year in lost advertising revenue were not wholly accurate.
“If you looked at [junk food ads] today and stopped it today it could be something like £23m,” he said. “But there was no accounting for whether they would be replaced [by other advertisers]. It was meant to be indicative. It would really depend on how advertisers respond."
MacLeod was confident that TfL would be unlikely to see a loss of revenue to the extent it had initially predicted.