Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Robin Ireland, director of Food Active and John Ashton, a public health consultant in Liverpool, call for national action from organisations including Public Health England (PHE) to put an end to similar campaigns and ask: "Should this form of advertising and marketing be banned, given the growing evidence of the effect that marketing of unhealthy food and drink has on children?"
In response to the article, IPM managing director Carey Trevill writes:
"The recent comments in the BMJ have caused yet another stir in the marketing to families and children debate. At the IPM, we’ve been heavily involved in the CAP Code review that has directly addressed marketing HFSS products to families and children, and we are encouraging the industry to embrace the Code changes now that go live this summer.
"Whilst the comments published today will no doubt have an incendiary response, the Coca-Cola Christmas truck is not the problem here. Coca-Cola has possibly the most robust sampling procedures of any business the IPM sees because they take the promotion and consumption of their products seriously and do not sample to children, with choices on offer of their range.
"There is a wider societal need to address obesity and dental health but hitting brands is like shutting the door after the horse has bolted – educating families and children on appropriate consumption of HFSS products is a better way to demonstrate an ‘enjoy responsibly’ approach. If we take the censor approach, we take away choice and variety when what we need to do is educate.
:During the lengthy public consultation, CAP proved that advertising was not the key persuader in the behaviours that lead to poor dietary habits - these start in different places and yes, PHE should continue to take the active role they have in working with the public to show how to eat well and still be able to enjoy a treat.
"What we see here is most brand owners in the HFSS ‘band’ reviewing and changing the way they communicate, market and promote their products – and most large manufacturers have been since late 2015 including those who come under the sugar tax bracket by diversifying and reformulating – we certainly don’t see the types of promotion that would have happened a few years ago.
"The article in the BMJ seems to miss the fact that the CAP Code has been changed and new rules have been brought in to address exactly what the authors point to."
Comment below to let us know what you think.
For your daily hit of news from the brand experience community, weekly brand and inspiration updates or your monthly trend download, register and subscribe to Event and our bulletins.