A poster ad for KFC’s Mars Krushems drink, seen on 1 July 2018, featured an image of the product next to a Mars Bar under the text “FINGERLICKIN’ COOL”. The poster was displayed on a telephone box a short distance from the entrance to a primary school.
The Obesity Health Alliance challenged whether the ad was for a product that was high in fat, salt or sugar (an HFSS product ad) that was directed at children.
Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Ltd (KFC) confirmed the advertised product was an HFSS product and said that the ad was mistakenly placed within 100 metres of the school. They apologised for the error and explained that their media agency mistakenly, due to human error, selected the phone kiosk as a site for the ad.
Their media agency was aware of KFC’s policy which required that they must not knowingly target any advertising to an audience under 16 (whether it was an HFSS product ad or not), either through the content or the placement of the ad. That included not placing posters within 100 m of any school. Their media agency selected locations for posters to be displayed using their expertise, and in accordance with that policy.
KFC said they were unaware of the error until the ASA brought it to their attention, at which point they immediately contacted their media agency who arranged for the ad to be removed the same day. The media agency had conducted an audit of all telephone kiosks rented on KFC’s behalf to ensure that no other KFC ads were being displayed within 100 m of a school. They would also take every possible step to prevent further similar mistakes.
Primesight Ltd, the media owner, apologised for the ad appearing in the location. They had data which enabled them to recognise school boundaries, and a standard that poster sites within 200 m of a school were prohibited from displaying HFSS product ads.
They had investigated why the ad had appeared at the location and found that due to an ongoing process of upgrading and removing some phone kiosks across the UK the KFC ad booking had been swapped from a different kiosk onto the kiosk in question. The necessary checks as to whether that kiosk was suitable to display the ad were not made due to human error. Primesight said they had now blacklisted the kiosk from all future bookings for HFSS product ads. They confirmed that the ad had been removed immediately on receipt of the complaint.
The CAP Code required that HFSS product ads must not be directed at children through the selection of media or the context in which they appeared, and that no medium should be used to advertise HFSS products if more than 25% of its audience was under the age of 16. The ad promoted the Mars Krushems drink, which was an HFSS product, and the ad was therefore an HFSS product ad for the purposes of the Code.
The ASA considered that because children under 16 comprised less than 25% of the UK population, in general, ads for HFSS products which appeared in outdoor public spaces were unlikely to breach the Code. However, the ad seen by the complainant was displayed only a short distance from the entrance to a primary school. As a result, children under 16 made up a much higher proportion of the ad’s audience. We considered it was highly likely that children under 16 comprised significantly more than 25% of the audience of the ad.
We acknowledged the ad had been displayed in close proximity to a school due to an error, and we welcomed KFC’s swift action to remove it. We concluded, however, that the ad’s placement breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 15.18 15.18 HFSS product advertisements must not be directed at people under 16 through the selection of media or the context in which they appear. No medium should be used to advertise HFSS products, if more than 25% of its audience is under 16 years of age. (HFSS product ad placement).
The ad must not be displayed again in close proximity to a school. We told Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Ltd to ensure that they took measures in future to ensure that HFSS product ads were not displayed in close proximity to a school.