Ben & Jerry’s ads banned for being too close to schools

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream Credit: PA

Two ads for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream have been banned after they were displayed within 100 metres of a primary and a secondary school.

The Children’s Food Campaign complained that the poster ads for Ben & Jerry’s Moophoria Light ice cream, seen in March, were directed at children despite being categorised as high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS).

Ben & Jerry’s owner Unilever said it was “disappointed” that the ads had been mistakenly placed near schools, adding that it had taken steps to ensure that the error was not repeated.

Build, the poster site owner, said the ice cream had fewer calories and less fat than regular ice cream so they did not regard it to be high in fat.

The company said it did not believe the ads were targeted at children, explaining that one of the posters was placed in an area (London’s Shoreditch) with a lot of foot traffic and a night industry, while the second was placed to target adults visiting Portobello market, also in London.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said: “We considered that the proximity of the posters to the schools was likely to mean that the audience of the ads were significantly skewed towards under-16s, and because of that they were directed at children through the context in which they appeared.

“We therefore concluded that the placement of both ads breached the Code.”

It added: “We told Unilever UK to ensure that they took measures in future to ensure that HFSS product ads were not displayed in close proximity to a school.”

A Ben & Jerry’s spokeswoman said: “We follow the strict guidelines around advertising in close proximity to schools but, in this instance, the poster was put up in error and we apologise for any upset caused.”

Barbara Crowther, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, said: “This is the sixth time in just 12 months that the ASA has upheld a complaint we’ve submitted.

“It’s good news that they have found against Ben & Jerry’s but it should not fall to the Children’s Food Campaign to police the rules on advertising junk foods to children.

“The ASA’s system of gently rapping knuckles long after a campaign has finished is clearly no deterrent to these enormous multinational companies.

“When there are no penalties for breaking the rules, then there is no incentive to abide by them. Something has to change.”