IPA reaction to CAP's new HFSS food ad rules

The IPA has issued its response to tough new rules banning ads for food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) in children’s non-broadcast media that come into effect on Saturday 1 July. The rules apply to media targeted at under-16s and will mean a major reduction in the number of ads children see for HFSS products.

Says Richard Lindsay, IPA Director of Legal & Public Affairs:

“With the changes in the way children under 16 consume media  - particularly through social channels - and the public concern about childhood obesity, CAP has tightened the ad rules by effectively aligning its non-broadcast CAP Code with the broadcast BCAP Code. Agencies and advertisers have had to comply with the broadcast rules on HFSS ads for years and will manage to do so across non-broadcast media too.

"In summary, CAP has now introduced an HFSS categorisation into non-broadcast advertising to young children and brought in some pretty stringent placement rules. These prohibit HFSS product ads in any non-broadcast media directed at children under 16, and the use of any medium to advertise HFSS products if more than 25% of that medium’s audience is under 16. Advertisers will, though, have slightly more flexibility on the content side of non-broadcast food and drink ads because of the changes to the rules on the use of promotions, licensed characters and celebrities. The new rules now only prohibit those three techniques in respect of HFSS product ads to children of pre and primary school age rather than in respect of any food and drink products (except fresh fruit and veg) as was the case under the old rules. This should be seen as a positive step, enabling advertisers to promote healthier products, not just fruit and veg, using those techniques.

“The new rules, which will apply across all non-broadcast media such as print, cinema and online - including social media - demonstrate that CAP is strong enough to take difficult decisions and flexible enough to implement them. The changes are designed to protect children, one of the core principles of our industry’s self-regulatory system,  and the IPA supports them.”

Find out more about the rules here.

Last updated 21 January 2022