The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI), has introduced new rules relating to the advertising of High Fat, Salt and Sugar (HFSS) products which will be incorporated into the Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages Section of the ASAI Code.
The new restrictions will come into effect on December 1, 2021 and ASAI will be working with media and advertisers to ensure the successful rollout of the rules. To facilitate this, ASAI says it will be taking a very practical and staged approach to their implementation and it will proactively monitor this area and, for the first six months after the effective date, will add any complaints that may be received into its monitoring structure, using them as a form of intelligence gathering.
The new rules will restrict marketing communications for HFSS foods and beverages from being directed or targeted at children under the age of 15 through the selection of media or the context in which they appear. The rules are in response to changing media habits among young people, as well as wider concerns in society about public health challenges for this age group. Thresholds for non-broadcast media will reduce the overall exposure to HFSS product marketing communications.
The new rules will prohibit advertising of HFSS products in media if more than 50% of its audience is under the age of 15. In addition, there are also thresholds on the amount of advertising for HFSS products that can be published by each media format. For example, no more than 33% of available outdoor space can carry HFSS product marketing communications, whilst for cinema, digital and print media, no more than 25% of the available space can carry HFSS product marketing communications. In addition marketing communications targeted at children for HFSS products cannot include a promotional offer or a competition. There are also restrictions on the use of licensed character. Also, locations primarily used by children will be prohibited to run any form of marketing communication for HFSS foods. Examples of such settings include registered crèches, pre-schools, nurseries, family and child clinics, paediatric services, schools, dedicated school transport, playgrounds and youth centres.
According to Orla Twomey, Chief Executive of the ASAI: “The implementation of these new rules in the ASAI Code are a significant and positive change designed to help and protect the wellbeing of children as well limit the overall exposure of HFSS advertising to the general public. Key industry groups support the implementation of the rules, demonstrating the advertising industry’s continuing commitment to advertising self-regulation. As well as limiting HFSS product advertising, the new rules will alter the nature of how food advertising is seen by children.”