The ASA has upheld a complaint regarding the proximity of the placement of two Ben & Jerry's ice cream posters to schools.
The posters, which featured the Ben & Jerry's logo and images of new 'light' ice cream products, were placed near a secondary school and a primary school. The CAP Code prohibits adverts for products that are high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS Products) being directed at children through the selection of media or context in which they appear.
The media buying agency responsible for the placement of these poster adverts, argued that the ads were given a 'general distribution' and were not targeted at children. They suggested that the reason for the placement of the first poster was due to heavy foot traffic and a night industry in the area, and for the second poster, to target adults visiting a market and the nearby night life. They also added that the ice cream had fewer calories and less fat than regular ice cream so they did not regard the products to be high in fat.
The ASA did not accept this defense and cited the CAP code provision, that no medium should be used to advertise HFFS Products if more than 25% of its audience is under the age of 16. Due to the close proximity of the posters to the schools, the ASA determined that their audience would be significantly skewed towards under 16s and because of that the adverts were directed at children through the context in which they appeared. The ASA also held the products to be HFSS Products despite the products being 'light' ice cream variants.
This ruling acts as an important reminder that ads that directly or indirectly promote an HFSS Product cannot appear in media specifically for children and cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience. When considering whether a product should be classified as an HFSS Product, the Department of Health nutrient profiling model will be used.