DIARY: AMV puts its foot in its mouth (but at least it wasn't a fatty burger)

You will not have been able to browse through a broadsheet over the past week or so without noticing that the industry has been getting the equivalent of the bread-roll treatment over allegations that it's living off the fat of the land. Literally.

With Labour MPs almost queuing up to advocate a ban on snack-food TV commercials directed at children, adland's finest have been adopting statesman-like tones.

Not least David Kershaw, the M&C Saatchi partner, the chairman of the Advertising Association (and luncher extraordinaire).

"No-one in the industry underestimates the seriousness of child obesity as a major problem and no-one is in denial that the role of advertising will need to come under the microscope," he solemnly told a conference last week.

And so say all of us. The trouble is that the united front being built by agencies and their snack-food manufacturing clients has just suffered a couple of direct hits.

First, a copy of a briefing document submitted to the Commons select committee inquiry into obesity by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, was indiscreet enough to mention the "p" word.

"What is the desired consumer response?" the agency asked in a brief for Wotsits snacks. Answer: "Wotsits are for me. I'm going to buy them when I get the chance and pester mum for them when she is shopping."

Cue damage-limitation exercise by Cilla Snowball, AMV's chief executive.

"Using the word 'pester' was unfortunate and we have apologised for it," she says in defence. The resulting advertising, she adds, never suggested that the pestering of parents was acceptable.

Second, a spectacular gaffe on the Guardian Unlimited website. There, a piece asking "What's wrong with our food?" and railing against "the massive advertising and marketing machine that's aimed at our children" has been sharing space with a McDonald's ad for "the new Big Tasty".

Don't suppose anybody at the home of the Golden Arches was lovin' this unfortunate juxtaposition very much.


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