The UK’s advertising standards watchdog has banned two promotional campaigns associated with The Hundred, the short-format English domestic cricket competition, for targeting children with junk food.
A duo of campaigns run recently by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) marketing The Hundred – an email sent out to an ECB mailing list and an Instagram advert offering the chance to win tickets – were found by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to have breached its code.
The email contained messaging from McCoy’s, the snack brand which is the main partner of the Manchester Originals team, while the advert on Instagram was posted by Butterkist UK, the brand which is the top-tier sponsor of the Birmingham Phoenix.
Both brands are part of the KP Snacks empire – that company became the main partner of The Hundred in July 2019 in a five-year deal, with eight of its specific brands (also including Hula Hoops, Tyrrell’s, and Skips) sponsoring a team each.
Both campaigns were found to have inadvertently reached children, with the ECB having apologized for the mailing list including under-16s, and the ASA having said not enough care was taken to ensure the Instagram ad did not reach minors (this can be done by excluding specific criteria when posting).
The email was found to have been sent to 326 recipients under the age of 16, while the ASA said the ECB had not taken enough steps to ensure the Butterkist Instagram post did not reach children.
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The ASA has now said it has told the ECB “to ensure that HFSS [foods high in fat, salt, and sugar] product ads were not directed at children through the selection of media or the context in which they appeared.”
Two complaints were received by the watchdog concerning the matter – from the Children’s Food Campaign and from Food Active.
KP Snacks has now responded to the ASA’s ruling, saying: “At KP Snacks we recognize that as a responsible food manufacturer we have an important role to play in helping people make informed choices and enjoy our products responsibly …
“We welcome the ASA ruling and we will be working closely with the ECB to take on board the recommendations."
The ECB issued its own statement, adding: “We are sorry that due to an internal error an email promoting a giveaway of free cricket bats and balls was sent to a number of under 16s as well as the adults it was intended to be sent to … We are putting in place additional systems to ensure it does not happen again.”
At the time it was struck, the KP Snacks-ECB deal was heavily criticized was UK health campaigners, with childhood obesity numbers currently rising.
The Hundred’s principal partner is the online car marketplace Cazoo, while other official partners include Vitality, Lifebuoy, Sure, and New Era.