The television watchdogs are relaxing the rules on the promotion of
dietary supplements to allow advertisers to target more people.
The Independent Television Commission’s decision follows medical advice
that vitamins can benefit a broader range of people than TV advertisers
have been permitted to address.
The ITC’s move is in response to concern by the Broadcast Advertising
Clearance Centre that the rules for advertising dietary products on TV
are out of kilter with those for print.
Until now, television advertising could only be directed at the parents
of growing children, pregnant or breast-feeding women and elderly
From now on, advertisers will be able to widen their target group to
include people on restricted- and low-energy diets, such as vegans,
women of child-bearing age - particularly if they are planning to have
children - and some people over the age of 50.
The rules for print ads have always been considerably more liberal in
allowing advertisers to target athletes in training, the bereaved and
people on low-energy diets.
‘Obviously, some of these categories would be hard to translate to TV,’
Sheila Kelly, director general of the Proprietary Association of Great
Britain, which represents all major drugs advertisers, explained.
‘But it’s clear that athletes in training would be a sector that could
easily lend itself to TV advertising,’ she added. ‘We welcome the move
because it’s often hard to explain to advertisers why there should be
two sets of rules, particularly when those for print are based on
Despite a relaxation of the rules, the BACC is likely to insist that
commercials for dietary supplements make it clear who they are