Ad with school boy eating fast food is not directed to children: ASB rules
An ad that was singled out by a South Australian Councillor as sparking his investigation into whether councils can ban junk food advertising at its bus shelters near schools is not in breach of food marketing to children codes. The Marion Councillor raised such advertising as a concern given teenage boys are most likely to consume chips, burgers and soft drinks. Junkbusters lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Board saying the ad is targeting children because it featured a teenage school boy and the ad was placed at bus stops, frequented by school children. The Board recently dismissed the complaint.
The advertiser, KFC, said the ad is about “showcasing uninhibited food enjoyment which an adult audience can relate to” and the boy is actually 18 years old.
This ad highlights loopholes in definitions of advertising to children in the existing self-regulatory initiatives. Definitions require themes to be directed ‘primarily to children’ which is taken as being “clearly aimed in the first instance at children under 14” and that children must represent 35% of the audience. As the Advertising Standards Board pointed out when dismissing the complaint, although seen by many school children the ad would also be seen by a broad audience. The Board said that the boy in the ad appears to be in year 9 or 10. KFC says they will not advertise to children under 14 and we think that year 9 is pretty close to that age but that isn’t what the Board determined.
This is a disappointing result as it seems to indicate that fast food advertisers can sign up to an Initiative where they say they will not advertise to children under 14 years but they can still use children dressed in school clothes to promote their high fat/high salt food on billboards.