Regulatory Outlook

Advertising and marketing | UK Regulatory Outlook June 2024

Published on 26th Jun 2024

UK general election 2024: advertising aspects of parties' manifestos | ASA publishes report on children's exposure to age-restricted TV ads | CAP updates guidance on in-game purchases

UK general election 2024: advertising aspects of parties' manifestos

The two main UK political parties (Conservative and Labour) competing to win power in the general election on 4 July 2024 have published their manifestos. As far as advertising is concerned, there is little information on policy. However, the Conservative Party does say that it would put the current regulatory restrictions on the advertising of products high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) on a statutory footing to tackle both childhood and adult obesity. It also says that it would "gather new evidence" on the impact of ultra-processed food to "support people to make healthier choices". A Conservative government would also resurrect its Tobacco and Vapes bill (which fell during the "wash-up" period), which contained provisions restricting the way vaping or nicotine products are displayed in retail outlets.

The Labour Party manifesto says that a Labour government would ban the advertising of "junk food" to children, without going into detail on which "junk food" would be included. It would also ban high-caffeine energy drinks to under-16s and "ban vapes from being branded and advertised to appeal to children".

See the Consumer section for more information on the parties' plans in relation to the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act 2024 and the Online Safety Act 2023.

ASA publishes report on children's exposure to age-restricted TV ads

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published a report looking at children's exposure to age-restricted TV ads, such as ads for alcohol and gambling products, between 2010 and 2023, and ads for HFSS products since 2016.

Key findings include:

  • children's overall exposure to ads for alcohol, gambling and HFSS products on TV has fallen in a continuing downward trend;
  • children's exposure to all TV ads decreased by 74.3% from, on average, 226.7 ads per week in 2010 to 58.2 ads per week in 2023;
  • children's exposure to TV alcohol ads fell by three quarters and by three fifths for TV gambling ads;
  • children's exposure to HFSS ads decreased by two thirds, that is at a similar rate to the decline in exposure to all TV ads; and
  • the fall in children's exposure to TV ads is likely to be driven by decreased TV viewing and increased consumption of online media, such as on-demand, online video and social media.

The report makes interesting reading for all commercial TV broadcasters. While it shows that the age restrictions on advertising potentially harmful products to children are working, it also shows that traditional linear TV advertising in general is falling in line with the increase in children's consumption of online and on-demand content.

CAP updates guidance on in-game purchases

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has completed a review of the guidance it published in 2021 on the advertising of in-game purchases, confirming that it remains accurate and appropriate. It has also now made some minor changes to the guidance to provide further clarity in certain areas, but without changing the policy.

As a reminder, the guidance sets out how advertisers of games with in-game purchasing should ensure that their ads are responsible and not misleading by:

  • providing easily comprehensible information to consumers on how much they are spending on in-game transactions;
  • making it clear at the point of purchase or download of a game that the game contains in-game purchases and, if applicable, loot boxes; and
  • making it clear what content requires extra purchase if the ad features that content.

Council of the EU adopts Green Claims Directive

The Council of the EU has adopted its position on the proposed green claims directive – the new rules setting out what types of information companies need to provide to justify their environmental marketing claims.

The EU Parliament adopted its position on the directive in March 2024, before the recent election on 6-9 June 2024 (see this Regulatory Outlook).

The Council's newly adopted position will form the basis for negotiations with the EU Parliament on the final shape of the directive.


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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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