Mars, Mondelez and Kellogg’s all given ASA ad bans

Kellogg’s, Mars and Mondelez have all been caught out by the Advertising Standards Authority this week, which is not good news when the government is looking for excuses to clamp down on ads for anything that is high in fat, salt and sugar.

Mars is in trouble for breaking the “responsible advertising” code. The offending spot was for a chewing gum brand, which contained adult themes – a young couple kissing on a bed, with the boy in his boxers – and was placed in a show called “Lego Masters” on Channel 4’s on demand service, clearly aimed at the under-16 age group.

Mondelez’ ban is for inappropriately targeting children with with ads for Cadbury’s Freddo chocolate bar — a poster, a website, downloadable content, and two YouTube videos all breached the ASA codes.

The ASA also pulled a TV ad for Kellogg’s Special K, which has been exaggerating health claims about its folic acid content and the benefits it could provide to pregnant women.

All three advertisers sought to defend themselves, with varying degrees of credibility, but it is clear that the ASA is not taking any nonsense. The self regulatory body is doing its best to fend off government intervention at a time when its own budgets are severely stretched, thanks in particular to the volume of online ads it has to keep track of — digital now makes up 50 per cent of its workload.

TFL is not taking any nonsense either. It recently banned all HFSS food ads, and this week turned down this seemingly innocuous image from food delivery service Farmbox because it has bacon, butter and jam in it.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.