Junk-food fortunes: Sports stars cash in on advertising

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

That's the claim made by health campaigners who want to ban famous athletes from promoting fatty foods to children

Health campaigners are calling on the Government to ban sports stars from promoting junk food, claiming athletes are earning millions by fuelling childhood obesity.

Gary Lineker and David Beckham are among the sporting figures that secure fortunes promoting Walkers crisps and Pepsi and Burger King respectively, while Olympic medallists are cashing in on lucrative deals in the aftermath of London 2012. Gymnast and Strictly Come Dancing's Louis Smith and boxer Anthony Ogogo are the faces of a Subway campaign to "encourage fans to train hard and eat fresh" by eating American-style "submarine" soft baguettes.

Pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale and US swimmer Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian of all time, also promote "low fat" subs from the chain, which has more than 1,500 outlets across the UK. But there is no evidence that any of the stars practise what they preach.

The Government recently announced the introduction of "traffic-light labelling" to help end confusion about which are the "healthiest" and "unhealthiest" foods but experts want more action.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a London-based cardiologist, says that with one in three children in the UK obese or overweight by the age of nine it will take half a century for the problem to be overcome.

"Look at the smoking ban – introduced about 50 years after the first scientific evidence emerged on the dangers of smoking. We've started to see evidence on the dangers of a poor diet on children with the increase in obese kids and diabetes, but the food industry is powerful and it will push arguments and 'evidence' saying its products are not dangerous.

"These companies are interested in one thing – profit. Traffic-light food labelling is just a drop in the ocean. We cannot afford to waste any more time: the Government has to intervene."

Companies keep details of their celebrity deals secret, but an economic report into the Lineker effect on Walkers crisps revealed his support had boosted sales by 2,760,000 packs over two years – up 23 per cent. Researchers concluded there was "exceptionally high ad awareness... in both adults and children".

Lineker has been the face of Walkers for 17 years. Another report shows why: between 1995 and 2000, Lineker campaigns helped increase sales by 105 per cent. He earned £1.5m for the five-year deal he signed in 2000 and another lucrative three-year deal was signed in January.

The report added: "An increasingly effective campaign has doubled the awareness and enjoyment of Walkers' commercials. It's also boosted consumers' loyalty to Walkers, helping it become Britain's biggest food brand."

Malcolm Clarke, from the Children's Food Campaign (CFC), last week criticised fast-food companies for their "vague health promises" and also called on them to stop using sports stars to promote their products.

He said: "Athletes tap into a mind-set – that if I eat that food I can look like that, have a body like that and achieve sporting success. It is clever marketing, and any healthy pledges are very vague and non-accountable. If you don't choose one of Subway's "5g of fat or less" sandwiches then the numbers are far less rosy. Sugar and salt content is still very high."

Subway is just one of 10 sponsors that Smith promotes via Twitter. A 6in chicken and bacon ranch melt contains 503 calories and 19.2g of "total fat", of which 8g is saturated, according to the company website, now showing the nutritional content of all its food. The same size "spicy Italian" contains slightly fewer calories and less fat but has 1.1g of sodium.

In-store posters encourage customers to buy foot-long subs for just £2 more and to add fizzy drinks, doughnuts or cookies.

A spokeswoman for Subway said it had reduced salt content by a third in recent years. She added: "Subway has also signed up to all four of the Government's public health responsibility deal pledges to reduce salt, eliminate artificial trans fats, display calorie information on menu boards, and calorie reduction."

Sales of low-fat subs have increased by 11 per cent but the company declined to give figures regarding overall sales. PepsiCo, which manufactures Pepsi and Walkers, declined to comment.

Swimmer Rebecca Adlington became a Cadbury's brand ambassador at the Olympics claiming her favourite chocolate bar was a Boost "because the energy keeps me going".

Boost sales rose 55 per cent over three years when comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer promoted the chocolate bars in the 1990s. Experts predict Adlington is having an even greater effect.

"There is a lot of love for someone like Rebecca Adlington and the marketing plays on that," said Mr Clarke. "All these incidents are unhelpful though when you have our childhood obesity problem.

"Sports stars consume huge amounts of calories, far more than the average person."

A spokesman for the Department of Health said athletes' endorsement of products was not a matter for the Government, but for the Advertising Standards Authority.

David Beckham

Pepsi, Burger King

Beckham has long been one of the many sports stars who endorse Pepsi. He added Burger King to his product list this year when he endorsed their new "healthy" range, including fresh fruit smoothies.

Venus and Serena Williams

McDonald's

The tennis champions signed up to become the faces of McDonald's in 2005 in a controversial campaign that targeted children. After a huge media backlash following the 2004 documentary Super Size Me, the company enjoyed 15 consecutive quarters of growth. "We're both huge fans of McDonald's, and we both love kids," said Venus.

Michael Phelps

Subway

Phelps puts away 12,000 calories a day when he's in training and a foot-long meatball marinara, his favourite according to Subway's website, gives him almost 1,000 calories with 36g of total fat, 14g of which is saturated. Phelps earns around $6m (£3.8m) a year from endorsements.

Gary Lineker

Walkers crisps

Economic modelling showed Walkers had 44 per cent growth in the grocery sector between September 1994 and February 1996, by which time Lineker's campaign was under way. He is estimated to have earned at least £5m promoting the crisps.

Rebecca Adlington

Cadbury's

It may give the Olympic medallist the energy she needs, but there are 326 calories in a Boost bar, the swimmer's favourite, which also contains 18.3g of fat – nearly a third of the recommended daily amount.

Jonah Lomu

Pizza Hut

Along with Caprice, Martin Clunes and others, the New Zealand rugby player helped the chain to an average revenue per restaurant boost of more than 21 per cent. The company spent £17.8m on the campaign and saw a return of £54.9m.

News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

    £40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

    Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

    £22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

    Design Technology Teacher

    £22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

    Foundation Teacher

    £100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

    Day In a Page

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes