The advertising watchdog has reversed a ban on a Coco Pops television advert made earlier this year.
The ad for Coco Pops Granola, which aired in January this year, showed a group of cartoon animals standing on each other’s shoulders as they tried to knock a coconut out of a tree.
The Obesity Health Alliance said the Coco Pops advert was for a product that was ‘high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS product)’ which was aired during a show – a Mr Bean cartoon – which appealed to children under the age of 16.
The ad for Coco Pops Granola, which aired in January this year, showed a group of cartoon animals standing on each other’s shoulders as they tried to knock a coconut out of a tree
Rules state that in the UK children cannot be targeted with adverts for products that are high in fat, salt and sugar, and licensed characters should not be used to promote such products to them.
Bosses at the Advertising Standards Agency, in a ruling made in August this year, agreed and banned the ad saying the Coco Pops branding would ‘confuse’ viewers despite the granola version being a ‘non-HFSS product’ – and that it would appeal to children.
But Kellog’s argued against the decision, saying that the ad did show the granola product as being clearly differentiated from the core Coco Pops range, and that rules the ASA enforces state that it is fine to use a brand character usually associated with a sugary food to promote a healthy one.
The company also pointed out that its original Coco Pops range has now been reformulated with a 40% reduction in sugar, which means that it is no longer officially classified as a junk food.
The cereal giant also said that it was ‘reformulating’ original Coco Pops to reduce sugar by 40 per cent, making it a ‘non-HFSS’ products from July this year.
It said that it took the ASA ‘seriously’ and had ‘strict internal policies’ to stop HFSS products were ‘not advertised to children’.
Kellogg’s said the ad ‘did not contain any reference to the Coco Pops brand in isolation’ or ‘to any other product in the range’ – and that Coco the Monkey was seen with the product throughout the ad.
It said the granola was ‘clearly differentiated from other products in the Coco Pops range’ – and that there should be ‘no confusion’ that the ad was for granola and not any other Coco Pops products, despite it admitting that the Coco Pops brand ‘resonated with children’.
In the advert, Coco Pops mascot Coco the Monkey was then shown running up to a hyena, who was holding up the other animals, including Crafty Croc, and showing him a bowl of the cereal.
Coco the Monkey tells the hyena: ‘Coco Pops Granola, it’s so chocolatey, so crispy, and look at the milk, it’s turning all chocolatey. Mmm. So, want some?’
The hyena then licks its lips and is urged to eat it by onlookers Hefty Hippo and Shorty Giraffe, who chant ‘Taste it, taste it!’, before the hyena grabs the bowl, causing the other animals to fall to the ground in a pile.
A voice-over says: ‘Coco Pops Granola. Tasty fun for everyone’ as Coco and all the animals are shown eating together in the background.
A pack of Coco Pops Granola, a bowl and a jug of milk are then shown, with on-screen text stating: ‘Enjoy as part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle, 45g of Coco Pops Granola = 9% RI for sugar’.
Bosses at the ASA agreed with Kellog’s and cleared the ad so it can now be aired again.
It stated: ‘The only product featured in the ad was Coco Pops Granola, which was a non-HFSS product.
‘We considered that many adults and children were likely to associate the Coco Pops brand and Coco the Monkey primarily with Coco Pops original cereal, which at the time the ad was seen by the complainant was an HFSS product.
‘We considered that Coco Pops Granola was the focus of the ad throughout, including through the use of close-up shots of the product and the product pack (both of which were of a different appearance to other products in the range), and two references to ‘Coco Pops Granola’ in the voice-over, including once by Coco.
‘The brand name ‘Coco Pops’ was also not used on its own.
‘We noted that the ad drew attention to the milk ‘turning chocolatey’, which was a phrase used in ads in relation to Coco Pops original cereal and other HFSS products in the range, but given that it was self-evident that the Granola product had the same effect on milk, we considered its inclusion did not give greater prominence to the Coco Pops range branding generally than to the Granola product itself.
‘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 spokesman for Kellogg’s said: ‘We felt the original judgment had potential unintended consequences for the industry and the positive intent of the regulations – acting as a disincentive for food companies like us to develop and launch ‘better for you’ alternatives at a time when people are looking to our industry to take action.’