Cadbury Freddo bar ads banned after breaking junk food rules

Cadbury Freddo bar ads banned after breaking junk food rules

Cadbury's downloadable comic titled The Missing Hop.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Adverts for Cadbury's Freddo chocolate bar have been banned for breaking rules designed to limit children's exposure to junk food.

The Advertising Standards Authority investigated complaints over a poster, seen on a bus stop near a primary school, as an ad for products high in fat, salt or sugar and directed at children.

Complaints were also made about the Freddo website and two YouTube videos featuring imagery of Freddo the Frog.



The complaints also extended to a downloadable comic and audio book called The Missing Hop, which told the story of Freddo's mission to hunt down his friend Toad's missing hop.

Mondelez, trading as Cadbury, argued that the books were not ads for a product, did not include any Cadbury branding or the Freddo name in the title, and were intended to be read by parents while not being directly targeted at children.

Cadbury said the poster was mistakenly placed within 100 metres of a primary school due to an error by site owner JCDecaux.


'Call to action' 

Ads of Cadbury's Freddo bars have been banned for breaking junk food rules. 

It said its website was not focused on children under 16, did not have any child-friendly language, and its tone and presentation was not of any appeal to children, and was instead targeted at adults to enjoy with their family.

The company also argued that neither of the two YouTube ads, one for Freddo biscuits and the other a "call to action" to parents to visit the website, were appealing to children.



Under current regulations, ads for products high in fat, sugar or salt must not be directed at children, and no medium should be used to advertise such products if more than 25 per cent of its audience is under 16.

The ASA said the proximity of the poster to the school was likely to mean that the ad's audience was significantly skewed towards under 16s, and because of that it was directed at children through the context in which it appeared.

It also concluded that the website, including its promotions page, the comic and audio books and the two YouTube videos were all ads for an HFSS product but found that the promotions page and YouTube content were not directed at children.


'Long-standing commitment' 

In the case of Cadbury's YouTube channels, the ASA acknowledged that it was not possible to know what proportion of their audience were under the age of 18 because they could also be watched by unregistered users or users who were not logged in.

It banned the poster, website, and comic and audio books in the forms complained about, adding: "We told Cadbury to take reasonable steps in future to ensure that HFSS product ads were not directed at children through the selection of media or the context in which they appeared."

A Mondelez spokeswoman said: "We have a long-standing commitment to not market directly to anybody under the age of 16, and on social media platforms we go above and beyond the advertising code - we only ever target our advertising to those over 18.

"We are already taking the insights and views provided by the ASA as part of this ruling and applying those learnings to our future content so we can continue to build on our commitment in this area."