Adverts for some of the UK’s most popular confectionery brands have been banned under rules designed to protect children from products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS).
Online and social media ads for Cadbury eggs and Chewits and Squashies were found to have breached rules prohibiting the advertising of junk food to children by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
It found that the companies had failed to do enough to ensure the ads were not directed at under-16s.
The ASA rules say advertisers must use targeting tools to to direct ads away from users whose interests suggest they are younger than they claim, rather than just filter out users who have told social media platforms they are under 16.
ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “The ban on HFSS ads in children’s online media is working, but it’s important that we enforce it rigorously.
“These rulings show that we’re doing that and will help advertisers understand where we’re drawing the line.”
The Cadbury ban centred on adverts on its website for a storybook called The Tale Of The Great Easter Bunny, written by pop singer Frankie Bridge and featuring children hunting for Easter eggs coloured the same purple as the company’s branding.
A spokeswoman for Mondelez UK, trading as Cadbury, said: “We will be taking the insights and views provided by the ASA as part of this ruling and applying those learnings to our future content so we can continue to build upon our longstanding commitment to not market directly to children under the age of 16.”
It also banned four posts on the Chewits Facebook page about Chewie the Chewitsaurus celebrating GCSE results, going back to school, Roald Dahl Day and International School Libraries Month.
The “advergame” app Squashies World, in which players match pairs of Squashies by flicking them towards each other, must no longer appear.
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However complaints against the YouTube star Zoella and Pointless Blog, run by her partner Alfie Deyes, were not upheld by the ASA.
They had post ads for the confectionery brand Ferrero, but it was found that the company had taken reasonable steps to target their ads appropriately, taking into account datashowing that only a small proportion of Zoella and Pointless Blogs’s audience were under 16.