The brand has now dropped all of its advertising from Joe Wicks’ Body Coach YouTube channel, rather than face a formal regulatory investigation into its online advertising practices following the complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Under current government rules, Kellogg’s, like other food and drink brands, is not allowed to promote its ‘less healthy’ products on children’s TV, or any media channel, with an audience of more than 25 per cent under-16s.
In April, an ad for Pringles appeared to an unspecified number of the hundreds of thousands of children who tune in to PE with Joe online every weekday.
Health campaigners have warned that they are “hugely concerned” that ads for unhealthy foods are being pushed at children during lockdown.
Kellogg’s said that the error occurred because Joe Wicks’ channel previously featured videos aimed at adults wanting to workout and his audience of children increased only after lockdown began, when he branded himself as the “nation’s PE teacher”.
Barbara Crowther, a spokeswoman 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 don’t need more salt, more saturated fat, more sugar, more excess calories being pushed to them during a pandemic; or indeed at any time.
“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. The food industry and Government’s focus should be on building up people’s health and resilience; not undermining it.”
Katharine Jenner, campaign director at Action on Salt and Sugar, said: “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.”
Wicks does not have control over the adverts appearing on his channel.
A spokesman for the ASA said: “An ad for Pringles was shown prior to ‘PE with Joe’ live on YouTube. The complainant challenged whether the ad breached the Code because it was an ad for a product that was high in fat, salt or sugar that was directed at people under the age of 16 through the media or context in which it appeared. We approached Kellogg’s with the concerns that had been raised.
A spokeswoman for Kellogg’s said: “Kellogg’s confirmed that the Joe Wicks channel would be removed from the YouTube whitelist of channels that do not appeal to children.”
“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.”
She added: “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.”