Advertising regulations are still failing to protect children online

5 February 2015        

Supermarket shopping The British Heart Foundation has criticised a new report for allowing advertisers to continue to target junk food marketing at children online.
The review, commissioned by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), did not revise guidelines meaning advertisers are free to target children with marketing techniques like advergames designed to make products high in saturated fat, salt and sugar more attractive.

Instead, the report called on advertisers to review their online marketing to ensure that it can be easily identified as such. 

Advertising junk food products on television during children’s programmes has been banned since 2007. However, restrictions governing online advertising remain weak with no distinction being made between healthy and unhealthy products. 

Mike Hobday, our Policy Director, said: “While we’re pleased the report acknowledged children struggle to differentiate persuasive advertising from harmless entertainment, we’re disappointed it has not taken stronger action to stop children being exposed to junk food adverts online.

“The recommendations leave the online sphere loosely regulated in comparison with TV and mean that advertisers can continue to target children every day with advertising and marketing specifically designed to get them eating unhealthy products.”