The Advertising Association promotes the role and rights of responsible advertising and its value to people, society, businesses and the economy. We represent UK advertisers, agencies and brands on behalf of the entire industry, acting as the connection between industry professionals and the politicians and policy-makers.


The Advertising Association focuses on major industry and policy areas that have huge ramifications on UK advertising. This section contains our work around Brexit, HFSS and gambling advertising, data and e-privacy, trust, the digital charter and our Industrial Strategy campaigns.

Credos is the advertising industry’s independent think tank. It produces research, evidence and reports into the impact and effectiveness of and public and political response to advertising on behalf of UK advertisers in order to enable the industry to make informed decisions.

Front Foot is our industry’s member network of over 50 businesses across UK advertising. It aims to promote the role of responsible advertising and its value to people, society and the economy through a coalition of senior leaders from advertisers, agencies and media owners.

We run a number of events throughout the year, from our annual LEAD summit to the Media Business Course and regular breakfast briefings for our members. We are also the official UK representative for the world’s biggest festival of creativity – Cannes Lions.


High Fat, Salt & Sugar Advertising

In July the  Government unveiled a raft of proposals to tackle obesity, including a 9pm watershed on HFSS advertising on TV and online (with the intention of going further online with a total ban); a ban on ‘buy one get one free’ deals for such products; and calorie labelling on menus and labels for alcohol. In view of these proposals, the AA’s report on The Challenge of Childhood Obesity: The advertising industry’s perspective offers a relevant and topical perspective on the question of obesity and advertising.

The  report recognises obesity is a serious problem, impacting the health, well-being and life outcomes of the nation’s children. But findings show this is a complex social issue, with child obesity levels strongly affected by lifestyle and geography. It also notes that while obesity rates have continued to climb in the UK, children’s exposure to HFSS advertising has dramatically reduced over recent years. The average child sees around 11.5 seconds of HFSS advertising on TV and online a day – amounting to 0.01% of their day.

The report goes on to highlight that:

  • UK advertising rules are among the strictest in the world and already restrict the advertising of HFSS food or drink products in and around TV programmes commissioned for, or likely to appeal to children. The rules for all other media, including online, restrict HFSS ads where under 16s make up more than 25% of the audience.
  • If exposure to food adverts is a credible factor in obesity prevalence, it would be expected that the dramatic reduction in exposure to HFSS advertising over the past 10 years would have had a more significant impact on child obesity levels.
  • Ofcom’s analysis in 2010 was that HFSS exposure by children on TV had fallen by 37% since the introduction of the rules in 2008.
  • Since then, BARB data shows there has been a 41% fall in all food advertising exposure by children.
  • Brands advertising online can use tools accurately to direct HFSS advertisements away from children and young people, so that online exposure to such ads by under 16s is minimal at 0.5 seconds a day.

The definition of HFSS includes many every-day staple ingredients, many of which do not appeal to children, including stock cubes, oils and condiments. Furthermore, the ban could mean that Christmas dinners could not appear on TV before 9pm, nor could local takeaways advertise their curries or fish and chips to local consumers online.

We expect the consultation on a full online ban to be published soon, and also expect a response to the Government’s own consultation from last year on the 9pm watershed aspect of the proposals which showed that the proposed measure on TV would cut a mere 1.7 calories per day from children’s diets, the equivalent of half a smartie.

Download 'The Challenge of Childhood Obesity'
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