An email, a website, three Instagram posts and three paid-for Instagram ads for cricket tournament The Hundred and KP Snacks and its brands, seen in August 2021:
a. An email featured a bright, colourful cartoon-style image of cricket players, set against a street background. At the top of the image, The Hundred and McCoy’s logos were displayed alongside one another with text that stated “Official Team Partner”. Below that, text stated “1,000 FREE CRICKET BATS & BALLS TO GIVE AWAY EVERY WEEK”. Text underneath the image stated “CLAIM YOUR FREE BAT & BALL. We might have crowned our Hundred champions, but it’s not too late to claim your free bat and ball! We’ve teamed up with McCoy’s, Official Team Partner of the Manchester Originals, to offer you the opportunity to claim a free bat and ball to celebrate The Hundred”. The text “CLAIM YOUR FREE SET HERE” hyperlinked to a website where the offer could be redeemed.
b. A website, www.everyonein.co.uk, linked to from ad (a), featured a similar bright, colourful cartoon-style image of cricket players. At the top of the image, The Hundred, KP Snacks, Hula Hoops, Tyrrells, Butterkist, Pop Chips, Skips, Pom Bear, and McCoy’s logos were displayed alongside one another. Below that text stated “EVERYONE IN … We are on a mission to inspire thousands of families across the UK to get active through cricket! Let’s get Everyone In!”.
Underneath that a section titled “GET ACTIVE CHALLENGES” featured text that stated “We’ve asked some of our friends at The Hundred to have a go... why not see if you can match them?” along with a button labelled “MORE” that led to a page where consumers could watch videos of cricket players, in kit branded with the logos of different KP Snacks products, performing a range of cricket-related challenges. At the end of each video was text that encouraged the viewer to upload a video of themselves engaging in the challenge, tagging the brand featured on the kit.
A button at the top of each page on the website labelled “ABOUT” took consumers to a page with text that stated “WE ARE THE OFFICIAL TEAM PARTNER OF THE HUNDRED”, featuring the same logos as the initial landing page. Text on the page stated “KP Snacks are delighted to be part of the most exciting new cricket game on the planet! Through our partnership we want to help inspire everyone to discover cricket, get active and have fun! Don’t have the equipment? Don’t know the rules? Don’t know how to get involved? We’ve got you covered... and all your family and friends can join in!”. Below that, two buttons labelled “VISIT KP SNACKS” and “VISIT THE HUNDRED” took consumers to KP Snacks and The Hundred’s websites, respectively.
c. A post on Pom Bear UK’s Instagram account featured an image of a Pom Bear snack, dressed in cricket gear and holding a cricket bat and ball, with The Hundred logo in the bottom right-hand corner. A caption accompanying the image stated “WIN tickets for you and your cubs to watch the bear-y amazing @SouthernBrave in Southampton this summer […] To enter the competition follow us, like the post and tag the person you’d like to attend with. Can’t wait to see you all there!”, followed by an emoji of a bear.
d. A post on McCoy’s Instagram account featured a pack shot of McCoy’s Thai Sweet Chicken crisps, alongside an image of a cricket bat and ball. A caption accompanying the image stated “WIN tickets to watch the ULTIMATE @ManchesterOriginals in Manchester this summer […] To be in the chance to win simply follow us, like this post and tag the person you’d like to attend with. We can’t wait to celebrate with our McCoy’s lovers!”, followed by a cricket ball and bat emoji.
e. A post on Butterkist UK’s Instagram account featured a pack shot of Butterkist Crunchy Toffee Popcorn, alongside an image of a cricket bat and ball. A caption accompanying the image stated “WIN tickets to watch a sweet cricket game with @BirminghamPhoenix in Birmingham this summer […] To enter follow us, like this post and tag the person you’d like to attend with. We couldn’t have chosen a team more popping”, followed by a winking face emoji.
f. A paid-for version of ad (c).
g. A paid-for version of ad (d).
h. A paid-for version of ad (e).
IssueThe ASA received two complaints, from Sustain’s Children’s Food Campaign and Food Active, who challenged whether ads (a) – (h) were for products that were high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS product ads) that were directed at children through the selection of media or context in which they appeared.
The England and Wales Cricket Board Ltd t/a The Hundred (ECB) and KP Snacks Ltd confirmed that the products featured in the ads were considered high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) in accordance with the Department of Health Nutrient Profiling Model.
ECB and KP Snacks said the email (ad (a)) had been sent to individuals on ECB’s database, which had been collated from ticket buyers, and individuals who had not bought tickets but who had opted-in to receive general marketing from ECB. The ECB targeted those email addresses, which were categorised as “family category”. That category comprised individuals over the age of 18 who had purchased an under-16 ticket for an ECB event, and those individuals who had indicated within data capture that they had an under-16 within their household. They said that of those 1.3%, or 326 of 29,276, communications were sent to email addresses that were identified as belonging to people aged 16 or under. They said that future marketing communications for HFSS products would not be directed at those under the age of 16. In their view the characters featured in the ad, and in ad (b), were not “cartoonish”. They said the intention had been to depict local cricket players in regional settings, but because of player availability and restrictions in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they had been unable to undertake any photo shoots. Instead, they had opted to use the animation featured in the campaign.
ECB and KP Snacks said that they did not collect or monitor audience data in terms of identifying the age profile of users of the website (ad (b)). They said the social media campaigns that directed consumers to the website were targeted at those aged 18 and over. They explained that the main function of the website was as a mechanism for individuals to register to receive a free bat and ball or to enter a prize draw to win tickets to the Hundred events. The giveaway page featured text that stated “18+ only”, and within the terms and conditions were clauses that stated the minimum age of entry into the giveaway was 18. Where the prize draw was concerned, consumers had to tick a box confirming they were aged 18 or older and had read the relevant competition terms and conditions before entering the promotion.
ECB and KP Snacks provided information showing the age demographic for each of the KP Snacks brand accounts associated with ads (c), (d) and (e), and demographic information showing the reach and user interactions for each ad.ECB and KP Snacks said that ads (f), (g), and (h) were paid-for posts on Instagram that had all been targeted at adults aged 18 and over. They provided information that showed the targeting information, reach and impressions for each ad.
Upheld in relation to ads (a) and (h) only
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 ads variously promoted Hula Hoops, Tyrrells, Butterkist, Pop Chips, Skips, Pom Bear and McCoy’s, which were HFSS products. They were therefore HFSS product ads for the purposes of the Code.
We welcomed ECB and KP Snacks’ assurance that future marketing communications involving HFSS products would not be sent via email to people under the age of 16. However, we noted that ad (a), which featured exclusively HFSS products, had been sent to 326 recipients under the age of 16. We therefore considered that ad (a) had been directed at children through the selection of media in which it appeared, and therefore breached the Code.
The website (ad (b)) included information about how to enter the giveaway and the prize draw, as well as a series of videos featuring a number of “GET ACTIVE CHALLENGES” which showed cricket players, in kit branded with the logos of different KP Snacks products, performing a range of cricket-related challenges. We noted that consumers viewing the website could have done so either through clicking the link in ad (a), the links referred to in ads (c)-(h), or organically, for example through search engine results. We considered that the imagery featured in the ad was cartoonish in nature, featuring cartoon cricket players in a variety of settings, and used bold, bright colours, as well as a cartoonish font. We considered that imagery would have been likely to appeal to children under the age of 16. We also considered that the imagery and format used in the “GET ACTIVE CHALLENGES” videos – which featured cartoon images and were presented in a fast-paced and engaging manner – would have appealed to children under the age of 16. However, we considered that while the imagery and format used would have appealed to those under 16, it would not have appealed to them more than those over 16. We also considered that the language used across the website, and its overall presentation, were not particularly aimed at those under 16. We therefore considered it was not directed at children through the selection of media or the context in which it appeared.
We then considered whether ad (b)’s audience was comprised of over 25% under-16s. We considered it was unlikely that consumers would visit the webpage other than to enter the competition, because the webpage and its address were only advertised in an email directed at consumers on ECB’s mailing list, and through social media posts directly linked to the campaign. The website stated that the giveaway and the prize draw were only open to those aged 18 and over, and competition participants had to select a box declaring they were over 18 in order to enter the competition. We considered that some individuals under the age of 16 would have accessed the website via the email (ad (a)), but that number would have been small, and the majority of visitors to the website would likely have been over 16. We considered it was likely that adults would visit the website in order to enter the competition on children’s behalf. In that context we considered it was unlikely that over 25% of visitors to the website were under the age of 16. Because ad (b) was not directed at children under 16 and it was unlikely that over 25% of its audience was under 16, we concluded that it did not breach the Code.
We next considered the ads which appeared on Instagram. Ads (c), (d), and (e), were non-paid for posts appearing on the Instagram accounts of Pom Bear, McCoy’s, and Butterkist, respectively. Ads (f), (g) and (h), were identical paid-for versions of ads (c), (d) and (e). We considered that marketers should take reasonable steps to target age-restricted ads appropriately. We considered that age-restricted ads on online platforms should not target audiences solely based on age data, because of younger users misreporting their age on social media or different people sharing the same device, and should support that method of targeting by using interest-based factors to help remove those aged under 16 from a target audience.
Where ads (c), (d) and (e) were concerned, we considered the content of the posts, which primarily comprised product pack shots, did not feature imagery that was likely to be of particular appeal to under-16s. We considered that consumers were unlikely to use Instagram or interact with the Instagram pages of individuals or businesses unless they were signed-in to their Instagram account. We understood that because they were non-paid for posts, KP Snacks would not have been able to utilise the age restrictions or interest-based targeting available on Instagram for paid-for ads. As non-paid for posts on KP Brand accounts, ads (c), (d), and (e) would have been seen by the followers of the relevant accounts, those tagged in the comments of the posts as part of the promotion, and on the Instagram Explore page. We noted that less than 25% of Pom Bear, McCoy’s and Butterkist’s followers were registered as under 18 on Instagram – comprising 3%, 8% and 8% for ads (c), (d) and (e), respectively. We also noted that reach and engagement for each post among those registered as under 18 was well below 25% - comprising 3%, 8% and 14% for ads (c), (d) and (e), respectively. We therefore considered that ECB and KP Snacks had taken reasonable steps to target ads (c), (d) and (e) appropriately and concluded the ads did not breach the Code.
Where ads (f), (g) and (h), were concerned, we noted that KP Snacks had used age-based factors to target the ads, and some limited interest and geography-based factors. Ad (f) referred to the cricket team Southern Brave from Southampton and had been targeted at 18- to 65-year olds within 40 km of that city; ad (g) referred to Manchester Originals and was targeted at 18- to 65-year olds within 17 km of a number of towns and cities around Manchester; and ad (h) referred to Birmingham Phoenix and was targeted at 25- to 44-year olds within 40 km of Birmingham. The former two ads had used “Parenting” and “Parents” as interest-based factors, whereas the latter had no specific interest-based targeting. We noted that KP Snacks had used some interest-based factors to target ads (f) and (g), and we considered the interest-based groups they chose would have had the effect of targeting the ads away from Instagram users under 16. Additionally, we noted that KP Snacks had not used any interest-based factors to exclude groups of people more likely to be under 16 from the target audience for ad (h). We therefore considered that ECB and KP Snacks had taken reasonable steps to target ads (f) and (g) appropriately and concluded those ads did not breach the Code. However, we considered that ECB and KP Snacks had not taken sufficient care to ensure that ad (h), which featured an HFSS product, was not directed at people under 16, and that ad therefore breached the Code.
Ads (a) and (h) 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).
We also investigated ads (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) and (g) under 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), but did not find them in breach.
Ads (a) and (h) must not appear again in the form complained of. We told The England and Wales Cricket Board Ltd and KP Snacks Ltd to take reasonable steps in future to ensure that HFSS product ads were not directed at children through the selection of media or the context in which they appeared.