The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) has announced that the Australian Advertising Standards Board (ASB) has upheld its complaints alleging that TV commercials for Kellogg Co.’s LCM® cereal bars violated the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI). According to OPC, the two advertisements in question were directed primarily toward children but failed to promote “a healthy dietary choice consistent with established scientific or Australian government standards,” healthy dietary habits or physical activity.

In upholding the two complaints, ASB disagreed with Kellogg’s claims that the commercials were not aired during programming “where the proportion of children under 12 years of age is below 25%,” ruling instead that LCM® products “do not meet the Kellogg Global Nutrient Criteria for a healthier dietary choice” and therefore are “not permitted to be advertised to children under 12.” The board also found that although the commercials did not violate any provisions of the Australian Association of National Advertisers marketing codes, they reportedly failed to encourage healthy dietary habits or physical activity as required under RCMI. Based on these findings, Kellogg Co. has agreed to stop airing these commercials during children’s programming.

“We know the power and influence of advertisements using cartoon characters and fantasy on children, as do parents. These ads create pester power, something which undermines the efforts of parents and educators. This flagrant marketing to children is irresponsible at a time when children’s diets are so poor, leading to increasing rates of overweight and obesity,” said OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin in a July 4, 2013, press release. “This is the second time in as many weeks the ASB has upheld these complaints by the OPC against Kellogg’s, and is a really encouraging result.” Addition details about the ASB ruling in a separate OPC complaint about cereal advertising appear in Issue 489 of this Update.