The real nonsense of the ban on 'snack' advertising has been revealed


One little-known fact about Transport's "junk trade" advertising ban on London is that a company does not need to sell food to violate the rules. If an ad for a West End musical used an image of a cream pie, it would be rejected.

The rules also apply to TfL ads. The campaign presented below was executed in 2016, but will not be allowed today, because the cakes have too much sugar for Sadiq Khan and the "public health" neo-puritans.

The ban on displaying standard food products in non-food ads soon leads to absurdity. To get an idea of ​​how absurd things are, I used a Freedom of Information request to ask TfL how many of its own ads had to be processed to comply with its own rules. The documents I received are full of mind.

The story begins in late November 2018 when someone at TfL with the mildly threatening title of Marketing Customer & Behavior Change Executive found that her organization could be affected by the impending changes. He e-mailed staff asking for a comprehensive review of TfL's internal ads to eliminate any "trash" imagery that could violate the new rules and make the mayor difficult. To be sure, we decided that "junk food" would not only be cleaned by TfL's public transport ads, as required by the ban, but by all its commercial materials.

As regular readers know, "junk food" is a useless term used by activists to cover the full scale of their ambitions. As with the government-proposed television ban, the TfL ban applies to all foods considered to be high in fat, sugar and / or salt (HFSS). The public is largely unaware of how fat fat, sugar and salt must be in one product for the government to classify it as HFSS. The FOI messages reveal that TfL staff and its advertising agencies were equally ignorant, so the Executive Behavioral Change Executive gave them a course of conflict, explaining that "foods that you do not automatically see as" junk food "are either banned or high fat, salts or sugars content '. He gave yogurt, pesto, butter, cheese and honey as anti-intuitive examples. It could give a lot more.

The message was reinforced a week later by an email that read: "For the sake of clarity – by junk we mean anything that is high in fat, sugar or salt." He continued with self-doubt: "This covers things that may not necessarily be considered "junk food" so things like jam will not be allowed!

The first cleaning accident was a cookie in a TfL bus ad (see below). This was sent back to the creatives who created a new ad from scratch at a cost of £ 4,820.

A few days later, a Christmas ad designed for End of time was found to show a moon coated with powdered sugar and sacred, which, it was observed, "resembles a Christmas pudding (a piece of food)." This time the solution was easier. In an email to the advertising agency, TfL's Customer Marketing & Behavior Change Manager (not to be confused with Customer Change & Customer Behavior Executive) told them to "just remove the icing sugar and the shrine so it's 100% moon, instead of looking like a pudding." And he added: "I can't believe I'm writing the sentence above!

They also appear in the same popcorn and nuts ad. Both had been removed by air before destroying the minds of the vulnerable young people.

There was more drama in the new year when the TfL "cultural maps" were revised. These maps are designed to show tourists what London can offer at every tube stop. It turned out to be full of unhealthy food in cartoon form. A list of potential violations was made, including curry imagery at Brick Lane, strawberries and cream at Wimbledon, tea and sandwiches at South Kensington and popcorn at Hampstead Health Station. At Borough Market, there were people who "carried a cake and a steaming drink". At Brixton, two people could look cleanly enjoying a pizza.

This was DEFCON 1. Encouraging them to leave no stone unturned, the staff put every food and drink item on the posters, whether they were "trash" or not. The list of amendments includes the following gems:

“It's hard to say, but does the One Hoe Street lady seem to hold coffee?

"It looks like the woman in the wheelchair in front of the confidence of the bow arts given on a cake / desert plate.

"From downtown Walthamstow there is a grocery store that sells groceries (it looks exactly like vegetables, so it should be nice)

& # 39; … there is [sic] three people sitting on a rug by the lake and the woman has a drink next to her and either a book or a tea pack depending on how you interpret it, can you remove it?

"Through the corner of Hyde Park there is a man who has a picnic and shows a bread and a glass of wine (although alcohol does not apply)."

Of the twelve maps, nine were found to promote obesity and had to be changed. Many of them had to undergo multiple treatments, including a North Line map showing popcorn, a cake, a carbonated drink and something that may or may not have been a tea pack. See if you can find them all.

The Provincial Line map was a little better, showing not only popcorn but strawberries, cream and sandwiches.

The cost of editing the maps to comply with TfL rules was £ 3,400 and did not end there. A further £ 1,580 was spent covering an ice cream to a snowman in an ad promoting the pipe air conditioning system. £ 6,355 was spent on redesigning it End of time ad and, as mentioned above, costs £ 4,820 to get rid of the cookie.

In total, the TfL advertising account for the removal of food and beverages amounted to £ 16,155. It's a curious use of money and everyone involved seems to have considered it, but, as with the Farmdrop farce that happened last month, it was not an unintended consequence. The rules are executed exactly as they intended. TfL did not return after Farmdrop's story hit the news because the ban always had to affect products such as bacon and butter. Similarly, it was always designed to influence non-food ads, so TfL was in the case three months before it came into force.

These results may be ridiculous but not accidental. This is what happens when fanaticism becomes normalized. These are the things now.