Sid the Slug salt complaint knocked back by watchdog

LONDON - A complaint by salt manufacturers about the 'Sid the Slug' health campaign, which urges people to cut down on the amount of salt they eat, has been rejected by the advertising watchdog.

The Salt Manufacturers Association, which represents six major salt makers, had complained about the 'Sid the Slug' campaign, saying that it implied that salt could kill humans as well as slugs and that, therefore, it was misleading.

The campaign, created by HHCL/Red Cell for the Food Standards Agency, ran on television, posters and in print nationwide. It used a six-foot-tall animated slug developed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, the firm behind 'The Muppets'.

The Advertising Standards Authority said today that it believed that people would understand that the character is a humorous device to raise awareness about high salt consumption.

"The ASA Council therefore took the view that the advertisement is unlikely to be interpreted as the complainants suggested or to cause serious or widespread offence," the watchdog said.

The FSA said that the campaign was based on up-to-date independent scientific advice from experts and supported by industry, consumer groups and public health charities.

Neil Martinson, director of communications at the FSA, said: "People are far more likely to take notice of health information if it is delivered in an entertaining or unconventional way. It just goes to show that Sid can slug it out with anyone."

The FSA claims at least 26m people every day eat more than the recommended daily limit of six grammes of salt. This significantly increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, a condition that results in 170,000 deaths a year in England alone.

The SMA argues in return that research shows that lower sodium diets have a "miniscule long-term effect" on the blood pressure of healthy individuals.

As well as targeting consumers, the FSA is encouraging food manufacturers to cut back the amount of salt they add to processed foods, because this is where people get the majority of their daily salt intake.

If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum here.