As you may have heard, the UK government recently confirmed its plans to go ahead with an advertising ban for products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS). This covers various foodstuffs and beverages, including juices, snack products, confectionery, some cereals, takeaway meals and sandwiches. In addition, the government said it will also restrict promotions on HFSS in retailers from April 2022.

In the UK government’s ‘tackling obesity strategy’, the government announced a number of measures to ‘help people live healthier lives.’ This included legislating to end the promotion of foods high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) by restricting volume promotions and placement in certain locations to “help limit the amount of HFSS advertising children see.” How effective the ad restrictions will actually be has caused much debate in the ad industry. According to the IAB, “no evidence has been produced to show that an outright ban of HFSS ads online would be effective at reducing obesity rates.” 

In light of the HFSS ad ban, we wanted to share how this could affect the way brands in this space can utilise social and influence.

How will this affect the way brands utilise social and influence?

When do the changes come into effect?

The changes come into effect at the end of 2022. Prior to this date brands need only operate in line with existing regulations

What products are affected by the ban?

Any food and beverage product that falls into the HFSS category

What, in social and influence, is not affected by the ban?

  • Brand advertising (on TV pre 9pm) – No additional restrictions on advertising content. Celebrities and influencers can be integrated into this as normal.
  • Brand advertising (on TV & online) is permitted if no HFSS products are being advertised
  • Audio-only adverts online, such as podcasts
  • Owned media e.g. company social media pages and websites
  • Brand Advocacy (using influencers or otherwise) – Non-paid for activity is permitted in any channel, paid for activity is permitted on brand owned channels.
  • Other media advertising (Cinema, OOH etc.) in which talent can continue to be integrated
  • Transactional content online (e.g. content on e-commerce/ e-retail sites/ portals) – Engaging and entertaining content can be incorporated into e-comm listings and ecosystems.
  • B2B promotion

    What will no longer be allowed, after the ban:

  • TV – No advertising HFSS products before 9pm TV watershed
  • Online – Paid-for advertising (at any time) in the form of HFSS products ads – with the exceptions set out above

While the restrictions will impact certain brands, now is the time to prepare and test new marketing models and creative approaches. In order to create effective campaigns across different channels that resonate, brands really need to understand their target audience and why they purchase the products. This way, brands can create better emotional connections and experiences with audiences to encourage brand growth and purchases. 

For example, regulated industries such as alcohol, tobacco and gambling have had to take a creative approach to growing their brand in the face of a more constrained marketing environment, so perhaps we could learn from them. 

Get in touch 

BDB is very happy to talk through these developments with your brand. We have been preparing for this ban since it was first mooted and can fully brief you on the many alternatives and new directions – get in touch today.

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