Confectionary company Kinder has been forced to shut down one of its UK sites after it emerged they were being used to promote high sugar confectionary to children via ‘advergames’.
As reported on the Guardian, the ban of the sites comes as a result of an Advertising Standards Authority ruling, which stated Kinder had broken Committee of Advertising Practice rules regarding the promotion of high fat, salt, or sugar products to under-16s.
Those visiting the Kindernauts site are met with a message stating the site is ‘no longer available’. Previously it carried branded Kinder videos showing children playing, as well as games on the site itself promising prizes and ‘fun activities’, all under the watchful eye of the toy-containing eggs. And probably Bueno.
Meanwhile the Kinder Magic site not longer carries adverts and games relating to the confectionary. The regular Kinder site – age gated to 16-plus - and Facebook pages are still active, with the latter still carrying ads which are quite clearly aimed at youngsters. Facebook’s minimum age of 13 possibly covers them there, though.
The ruling sets a precedent for other confectioners and manufacturers of unhealthy food and drinks: don’t think you can skirt around the rules by creating sub-brands, or the ASA will come down on you. Eventually. A cursory search through other confectionary sites shows most sit behind age gates, and the closest to a game we discovered was on the Maoam site, which is not behind an age gate.
The original complaint regarding Kinder’s conduct was lodged with the ASA by the Children’s Food Campaign, an anti-junk food marketing lobby. Barbara Crowther, co-ordinator of the campaign, said: “Kinder might be surprised at this ruling but we’re not.. These web and app-based games and videos were deliberately designed to encourage children as young as three years old to collect the toys associated with Kinder chocolate. In the midst of a rising child obesity crisis it’s about time the ASA called time on these irresponsible marketing tactics, and we’re delighted they upheld our complaint.
“However, the fact such campaigns are still being developed is further clear evidence that current rules and guidelines are still far from adequate in protecting children from constant exposure to junk-food marketing.”
Ferrero, parent company of Kinder, released a statement saying about as much as you would expect: “Ferrero is committed to acting responsibly, which is why we aim all advertising and marketing communications for our products at adults not children. We firmly believe in parental choice and the role that parents play in choosing what is suitable for their own children.”