Fast-food ‘wowsers’ should get stuffed, say ad bosses
Calls to restrict the advertising of fast food have been branded as an attack against freedom.
Advertising bosses also claim such restrictions would also threaten major public events such as Auckland’s Coca Cola Christmas in the Park and the Tip Top Santa Parade.
Their comments follow the Auckland Regional Public Health Service seeking to limit advertising, including sponsorship of events, to curb obesity.
Earlier this week, the Association of New Zealand Advertisers issued a statement branding their demands to ban burger ads on bus shelters, amid other restrictions, as “unhelpful”, saying better public education on health issues would work better.
ANZA chief executive Lindsay Mouat told NBR ONLINE that already there were codes between the food industry and government to prevent the over-consumption of any food.
“The Auckland Regional Public Health Service is not ‘just’ seeking to band sponsorship by quick service restaurants, these seek to ban any products that they determine contributes to obesity from advertising or sponsorship in a public place,” he said.
“In effect, if implemented, this would mean for example, the end of the Coca Cola Christmas in the Park, one of the largest public events in the country. An ice cream such a Tip Top would not be able to support the annual Santa Parade.
"In essence, they are not just 'nanny state', they are also the Christmas Grinch. At it’s most farcical, the ARPHS would go further and would seek to ban advertising of weekly supermarket specials of the likes of chocolate bars, many dairy products, snack foods and fruit juice on bush shelters.”
Mr Mouat says such proposals would deprive many sports organisations of desperately needed funds to encourage participation in healthy activity.
“It would, for example, force the end of the long serving relationship between the NZ Breakers and Burger King, a relationship that has encouraged thousands of kids into basketball.”
The ARPHS also fails to realise how McDonald’s and Subway are taking a lead in promoting healthier food options.
“To ban advertising and sponsorship would prevent new lines being launched and promoted,” he says.
Mr Mouat says the public needs to question why taxpayer funds are going towards the “personal agendas” of health campaigners like Dr Robyn Toomath, a clinical director of Auckland District Health Board, who leads the Fight the Obesity Epidemic campaign group.
This week she told the New Zealand Herald that obesity was a “genetically, biologically based state”.
Many people will respond to stimulus to buy food and while reducing the chances to buy types of food was an initial step, restrictions on sponsorship could follow.
TBWA/Whybin chief executive David Walden says Dr Toomath’s calls were “an attack against free speech”.
“This is not a police state. This is an attack against freedom and we should rail against it. We are a sensibly educated society.
"We do not need the state telling us what to think. We can make our own decisions", he says.
“The National-led government has done its best to get rid of some of the obvious idiosyncracies and bullshit of nine years of Helen Clark, but there’s some entrenched in government departments who believe the state knows best.
"I have great faith in the New Zealand public to make sensible decisions for themselves, without government making it for them.”
Mr Walden says this was not the time for "wowsers" to carry out social engineering around food.
“I want people to have all the choices. It’s not the role of government to say you cannot have a burger. Advertising reflects society, it does not make society. Any government that gets into social engineering is on very shaky ground.”
DDB New Zealand holds the McDonald’s advertising account in New Zealand but managing director Justin Mowday declined to comment on fast food advertising directly.
“I think we have a very robust self-regulation system to protect all parties,” was all he would say.
Jim Moser, chief executive of Clemenger Group, whose company has the Burger King account, was unavailable for comment today.