Kellogg has removed an ad promoting crisps brand Pringles at the beginning of Joe Wicks’ exercise sessions on YouTube, following a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority.
Created by Grey London, the spot appeared at the start of an episode of Wicks’ family-focused "PE with Joe" sessions in April – a series that has seen the personal trainer gain 1.2 million subscribers in one week at the start of the UK lockdown.
Following a complaint to the ASA, owner Kellogg has dropped all of its advertising from Wicks’ The Body Coach YouTube channel, avoiding a formal regulatory investigation into the brand’s advertising practices.
According to the Department of Health & Social Care, Pringles is classified as a "less healthy" food. Action on Salt, Action on Sugar and the Children’s Food Campaign have urged food-and-drink companies to stop advertising food or drink high in fat, sugar or salt on TV during the lockdown.
"‘A pop, skip and a jump’ is a misleading and counterproductive message for the industry to be pushing," Barbara Crowther, spokesperson for the Children’s Food Campaign, said.
"Placing this ad directly before Joe’s hugely popular children’s daily PE class is a total betrayal of his work and highly insensitive, irresponsible marketing.
"Children are even more of a captive audience during this lockdown and we are hugely concerned they are still being subjected to unhealthy food advertising like this."
Last year, eight food and retail brands (including Kellogg, KFC and McDonald’s) were found to be in breach of advertising rules alongside videos on YouTube channels directed at children.
A spokesperson for Kellogg told Campaign: "It was not our intention to advertise Pringles to a younger audience. We are careful about where we place our advertising as we know we have a responsibility to act in the right way.
"Joe’s fitness channel has historically been aimed at adults which was the case when we placed our advert on it. His audience shifted recently with the launch of ‘PE with Joe’.
"As soon as we were made aware that the audience of his channel had changed, we took steps to remove our advertising and we have put measures in place to prevent a repeat."
Oreo has also been flagged for placing ads on Wicks’ YouTube channel and that case is currently awaiting a verdict from the ASA.
Katharine Jenner, campaign director at Action on Salt and Action on Sugar, added: "At this time, when health is more important than ever and our health systems and government are under enormous pressure, we are calling for the British food and drink industry to unite in the interests of public health and, through a voluntary ‘moratorium’, remove all forms of unhealthy advertising across all media platforms before 9pm during the current pandemic."
But the Advertising Association rejected the call, with chief executive Stephen Woodford commenting: "International experience shows advertising bans have little impact on the wider societal issues that drive obesity. The way to address the problem is through local, targeted interventions that address key lifestyle factors, including exercise and eating a balanced diet.
"Advertising can help with positive messages making healthier food choices, as the ITV ‘Eat them to defeat them’ campaign promoting the eating of fresh vegetables shows. The current COVID-19 outbreak has further shown that advertising can play a critical role in public health campaigns. Therefore, any action that might involve further restrictions on industry must be proportionate, evidence-based and effective and not cause damage to an already fragile advertising and media landscape."