ECB reprimanded after blunder saw emails sent to kids promoting junk food

The Advertising Standards Authority have upheld a complaint against KP Snacks and the ECB over a campaign which included email promotion and paid-for adverts on social media

KP Snacks is the official team partner of The Hundred
KP Snacks is the official team partner of The Hundred

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has reprimanded the ECB and KP Snacks, the title sponsor of The Hundred, over a campaign which saw adverts for junk food “directed at children”.

KP Snacks, who produce Skips, Hula Hoops, McCoy’s and Butterkist, were announced as The Hundred’s official team partner back in 2019 and their brands adorn the shirts of all eight men’s and women’s teams. At the time, then NHS boss Simon Stevens criticised the deal, stating that it was “disappointing” to “see the English cricket board doing a deal with junk food aimed at children”.

Now, the ASA have partly upheld a complaint against both KP Snacks and the ECB over a campaign which included email promotion and paid-for adverts on social media. The ruling came after Sustain’s Children’s Food Campaign and Food Active complained to the watchdog about the adverts.

And the ASA have now published their ruling, stating that two aspects of the campaign broke UK rules aimed at restricting ‘children’s exposure to products high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) advertising’. Their investigation found that 1.3% of the 29,276 people who received the email promotion were aged 16 or under, a break of regulations.

They also found that the ECB and KP Snacks “had not taken sufficient care” to ensure a paid-for advert on Instagram for Butterkist “was not directed at people under 16, and that ad therefore breached the Code”. The ASA said: “We told the ECB and KP Snacks to take reasonable steps in future to ensure that HFSS product ads were not directed at children through the selection of media or the context in which they appeared.”

A spokesperson for The Hundred apologised, saying: “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. While the email contained a logo of one of our partner’s brands, applicants were not required or encouraged to buy any products in order to apply for the bat and ball and the purpose of the competition was to get more people active.

“We are putting in place additional systems to ensure it does not happen again.” A spokesperson for KP Snacks said: “At KP Snacks we recognise that as a responsible food manufacturer we have an important role to play in helping people make informed choices and enjoy our products responsibly.

“Our partnership with the Hundred enables us to introduce the game to new audiences and the Everyone In campaign is based around inspiring more people to get active through the power of cricket, whether that be through free kit and equipment, access to inspirational matches or exciting challenges. We welcome today’s ASA ruling and we will be working closely with the ECB to take on board the recommendations.”

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