The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed a complaint alleging that a cereal advertisement shown at the beginning of a “U-rated” film “condoned or encouraged poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle in children” and “disparaged good dietary practice.” Although Kellogg Marketing and Sales Company (UK) Ltd. included on-screen text stating the sugar content of the product and emphasizing the importance of a varied diet and lifestyle, ASA argued that the Coco Pops Rocks ad in question, which featured brand equity characters and aired before a movie, would appeal to children, “who would not have the reading comprehension skills or relevant knowledge to be able to interpret and understand the information about the sugar content of the product and that it should be eaten as part of a varied diet and active lifestyle.”
“We also considered that, in the context of the exciting action in the visuals of the ad, it was unlikely that even those children with the ability to read and understand the on-screen text would pay attention to the information, which was contained in small print at the bottom of the screen,” noted ASA. “We considered the information in the small print was unlikely to mitigate the appeal of the product to children in the audience, or make clear to them that the product should only be eaten in moderation.”
These caveats notwithstanding, ASA ultimately ruled that the ad “included only one brief shot of two of the characters holding bowls and eating a mouthful of the cereal. There was no suggestion that it was appropriate to consume the product frequently or in excess or that an inactive or sedentary lifestyle was better than physical activity.” As a result, the agency found that the ad did not breach CAP Code rules 15.11 and 15.12 (Diet and Lifestyle).