You shout long and hard enough… and brands listen!

Two recent instances of big brands making an effort to change because enough people seem to be concerned about something they are doing that is bad.

One is Coca-Cola. In a first for the brand, their UK Christmas campaign features a bottle that has ‘Sugar-Free’ written reasonably prominently! That’s quite a departure from a brand that has been accused of selling supremely unhealthy sugared water to us for a very, very long time with impunity.

See the video:

Interestingly, this sugar-free positioning is not for (yet) for other markets – it seems restricted to the UK for now. Are people in other markets not as vocal as those in the UK?

Or is this a direct result of increased regulations in advertising to children, in the UK? Advertising Standards Authority’s (UK) new rules from July 1, 2018 (for the UK market, obviously):
– Ads that directly or indirectly promote an HFSS (high in fat salt and sugar) product cannot appear in children’s media.
– Ads for HFSS products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience.
– If the content targets under-12s, ads for HFSS products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children; advertisers may now use those techniques to better promote healthier options. (See: Tougher new food and drink rules come into effect in children’s media).

Most importantly, they are not for TV ads alone: They reflect restrictions already in place on TV, and will apply to children’s non-broadcast media including print, posters, cinema, online, advergames and in social media. Crucially, ads for HFFS products will no longer be allowed to appear around TV-like content online, such as video-sharing platforms such as YouTube, if it is directed at children.

This is a very, very substantial evolution, after years of severe lapse. Mondelez, Chewits and Squashies have had online ads banned as a result of the new rules!

This is long overdue. I hope India’s advertising regulatory bodies consider something like this. Or, enough people create enough noise and shame around high-sugared products to enforce brands to change.

The other instance is that of Amazon. After years of people complaining about how they have severely wasteful packaging, Amazon India has recently started adding this note, which I hope is printed in recycled paper.


Photo credit: Shrinivas S G on Twitter.

Photo credit: Vinay Kesari on Twitter.

Small start, but given Amazon’s scale, the very fact that they are thinking about doing something on this problem is a fairly big deal. Well done, people of India, in forcing the big A to think.

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