ASA upholds complaint against Santa offering bottles of Coke
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Complaints Board has agreed that Santa should not be used in advertising that promotes Coca Cola to children and young people.
A group of Healthy Auckland Together partners laid a formal complaint about Coca Cola’s sponsorship campaign “It Feels Good to Give.” The board agreed with the coalition of health agencies and NGOs that the fizzy drink is an ‘occasional product’ and therefore should not be targeted at children and young people.
Spokesperson for the coalition, Dr Michael Hale, welcomes the Board’s ruling that Santa had a strong appeal to children and therefore encouraged children to ‘engage with the content.’
“In this case, the advertisers’ watchdog, the ASA, has decided that the code has been breached. While it looks like self-regulation has worked on this occasion, there is no sanction for the company,” he says.
“Manufacturers and advertisers of unhealthy food need to take note. The code is there to protect children and young people from being targeted.
“Children do not understand that they are being marketed to. Parents do understand that ubiquitous advertising aimed at children normalises unhealthy food and drink, and encourages pestering,” Dr Hale says.
ASA’s children’s code was reviewed in 2016 to reduce harm to children and young people from the promotion of unhealthy food and drinks, as part of the previous government’s childhood obesity plan.
Both the sugar sweetened Coke and the artificially sweetened Coke in the ad are defined as ‘occasional’ drinks. They maintain a taste for sweet beverages and food, making fruit and vegetables taste less appealing.
“These drinks also contain caffeine and displace everyday drinks like milk and water,” Dr Hale says.
This is Healthy Auckland Together’s second complaint under ASA’s new children’s code and the first complaint to be upheld.
Last year the coalition complained to the ASA that the Pepsi Max campaign used cute emoji caricatures of the All Blacks to encourage children to collect fizzy drink cans. This complaint was settled as Frucor took down the ads voluntarily.