UK watchdog reverses ban on Kellogg's Coco Pops advert

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

The UK advertising watchdog has reversed a previous decision to ban an advert for Kellogg’s Coco Pops Granola following an independent review.

The TV advert in question, which was originally broadcast in January this year, was for a granola version of Kellogg's popular Coco Pops brand.

Although Kellogg’s Coco Pops granola is not high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), but the granola advert featured the Coco Pops brand mascot Coco the Monkey, the brand's jingle and phrases such as ‘it turns the milk chocolatey'.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that because viewers were likely to associate the Coco Pops monkey with the brand’s other high sugar versions, it was in breach of the advertising code.

Under the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP), adverts for products that are high in fat, salt and sugar must not be broadcast around TV programmes that commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal to audiences below the age of 16. 

The ASA, therefore, banned the advert and Kellogg was told to not broadcast the advert in its current form again.

Kellogg 'pleased' with new ruling

However, Kellogg requested an independent review and the ASA's U-turn ruling was published today. 

The watchdog noted that Coco Pops Granola was the focus of the ad throughout and the brand name Coco Pops was also not used on its own.

“We considered that as a result, it would be clear to both adult and child viewers that the product being advertised was Coco Pops Granola. We therefore concluded that the ad was not an HFSS product ad for the purposes of the Code and was therefore not subject to the restrictions prohibiting HFSS product ads from being shown around children’s programming.”

A spokesperson for Kellogg said the company was “pleased​” the ASA has reversed its decision.

OHA: 'When food companies fight rulings, children’s health will pay the price'

However, the complainant, the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA), was disappointed by the second ruling.

Caroline Cerny, alliance lead at OHA, said: “These adverts are designed specifically to appeal to children with fun cartoon characters including the well-known Coco the Monkey and catchy jingles. The original ruling recognised the power of brand advertising and closed a loophole preventing food companies from advertising to children by using characters and music associated with their unhealthy products.

“Following a lobbying effort from Kellogg’s, the industry-funded regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority, has rowed back from their original decision. This is what happens when a large multi-national food company uses its legal weight to fight rulings that influence their profits. Sadly the price is the future health of our children.

The OHA is calling for a 9 pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV.

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