Kellogg’s removes Pringles ad from Joe Wicks YouTube channel amid claims of ‘irresponsible marketing’

‘We are hugely concerned that children are still being subjected to unhealthy food advertising like this,’ children’s food campaign spokesperson states

Sabrina Barr
Thursday 21 May 2020 10:32
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Kellogg’s has removed advertisements for Pringles from Joe Wicks’ YouTube channel amid claims they are “irresponsibly marketing” unhealthy food to children.

In April, a “pre-roll” advertisement for Pringles, which is owned by Kellogg’s, appeared when children and adults tuned in to watch Wicks’ PE lesson video workouts, which he livestreams on his YouTube channel every weekday.

Kellogg’s originally placed its Pringles advertising on the fitness star’s YouTube channel in March, when it was targeted predominantly at adults. However, the channel has since become popular among children as they partake in Wicks’ PE lessons.

The government states that food and drink brands are not permitted to promote “less healthy” products on children’s TV or on other media channels when more than a quarter of the audience consists of young people under the age of 16.

However, Children’s Food Campaign argued that there are “loopholes for online platforms and social media, as well as for peak-time family TV viewing”, which means that “junk food brands and digital marketeers can currently find other tactics to lure children in”.

A complaint was made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the advertising of Pringles on Wicks’ YouTube channel.

While the advertising watchdog decided not to pursue a formal regulatory investigation into the issue, Kellogg’s has removed its Pringles advertising from the YouTube channel following complaints.

On the ASA’s website, it states that the issue has been “informally resolved”.

Barbara Crowther, spokesperson for Children’s Food Campaign, said the Pringles advertising in question was “a misleading and counterproductive message for industry to be pushing”.

“Placing this ad directly before Joe’s hugely popular children’s daily PE class is a total betrayal of his work, and highly insensitive, irresponsible marketing,” Ms Crowther said.

“Children are even more of a captive audience during this lockdown, and we are hugely concerned that they are still being subjected to unhealthy food advertising like this.”

Katharine Jenner, campaign director at Action on Salt and Sugar, added that in the current climate, “health is more important than ever”, stating that “our health systems and governments are under enormous pressure”.

Children’s Food Campaign and Action on Salt and Sugar have united to urge food and drink companies to refrain from advertising any food or drink products that are high in fat, salt or sugar before 9pm on any media platform throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last month the UK’s biggest betting and gaming companies showed some degree of moral fibre by agreeing to stop advertising their products on both TV and radio during the lockdown, in a bid to reduce exposure to those at risk of addiction,” Ms Jenner said.

“We are calling for the British food and drink industry to unite in the interests of public health and, through a voluntary ‘moratorium’, remove all forms of unhealthy advertising across all media platforms before 9pm during the current pandemic.”

In a statement, Kellogg’s said it was not the company’s intention “to advertise Pringles to a younger audience”.

“We are careful about where we place our advertising as we know we have a responsibility to act in the right way,” the firm stated.

“Joe’s fitness channel has historically been aimed at adults which was the case when we placed our advert on it (booked on 18 March). His audience shifted recently with the launch of ‘PE With Joe’.

“As soon as we were made aware that the audience of his channel had changed, we took steps to remove our advertising and we have put measures in place to prevent a repeat.’’

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