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Government U-turns: it will consider junk food TV ad ban under new plan to curb child obesity

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The government is to begin talks on a potential ban of junk food advertising on TV before the 9pm watershed as part of a range of new measures announced today (24 June) to halve the number of obese children by 2030.

The government’s latest obesity plan follows the first “chapter” which was released in 2016, which brought in the fizzy drinks tax and a voluntary scheme for the food industry to reduce the amount of sugar in food and drink.

The 2016 plan also introduced tougher rules around advertising to under-16s across non-broadcast media (print, cinema, online and social media), but the government opted not impose regulations on marketing of junk food, a move welcomed by advertisers.

However, it has since faced pressure from a number of organisations, including Cancer Research, to ban adverts for foods high in fat and sugar prior to the 9pm watershed.

The government has since conceded, saying it will begin consultations on introducing new TV and online advertising restrictions “to prevent children from being targeted by these unhealthy products, and to incentivise companies to reduce the sugar and calories in the products they sell.”

It said this could include extending the current advertising watershed and limit the number of unhealthy food adverts shown during children’s programmes up to 9pm.

In the interim, the government has called on industry to “recognise the harm that adverts for foods high in fat, sugar and salt can cause.”

However, industry bodies have not welcomed the U-turn from the government.

“International experience and independent research has shown advertising bans have little impact on the wider societal issues that drive obesity, which is caused by the interaction of many complex factors and requires a multi-faceted solution,” said Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association.

“Here in the UK, interventions such as The Daily Mile in schools have been successful as they are simple, cost-free and inclusive and not only impact on obesity levels, but improve behaviour, academic performance and children’s wellbeing. This is exactly the sort of partnership needed to tackle Britain’s obesity challenge.”

James Barge, director of public affairs at ISBA said there is “no silver-bullet” to reducing childhood obesity and stressed the need for a “holistic and multi-dimensional response.”

“As such, whilst we oppose the blunt instrument of a 9pm watershed we will, as an evidence-led industry, support steps which can be proven to proportionately reduce children’s exposure to HFSS advertising,” he said.

“ISBA looks forward to seeing more details of the government’s proposed approach and to engaging constructively with a view to shaping a simple, evidence-led and proportionate outcome which supports the aim of meaningfully reducing childhood obesity levels.”

Tim Rycroft, director of corporate affairs at the Food and Drink Federation, added: “While the commitment to full consultation on these measures is welcome, tthere will be deep disquiet in the food and drink manufacturing sector. Advertising and promotions underpin the healthy, vibrant and innovative market for food and drink that UK shoppers love.”

Under the new obesity plan, the government will also consult on a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children.

More immediate action will see the ushering in of new regulation to ban shops from offering special ‘two for the price of one’ deals for food high in sugar, fat or salt alongside rules which will require restaurants and takeaways to show the number of calories clearly on menus.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “It is near impossible to shield children from exposure to unhealthy foods. Parents are asking for help – we know that over three quarters of parents find offers for sugary sweets and snacks at checkouts annoying.

“It’s our job to give power to parents to make healthier choices, and to make their life easier in doing so.”

According to official figures, one in three children in the UK are now obese by the time they leave primary school.

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10 questions with… Carter Murray, chief executive of FCB

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The Drum speaks to people across the global media and marketing sector who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what little insights they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are answered by FCB chief executive, Carter Murray.

What was your first ever job?

My first ever job was cleaning boats. My first proper, steady job, however, was as an assistant account executive at Leo Burnett Chicago.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?

“Guru” (as in “marketing guru”). Most people called gurus actually are not. And this misnomer often causes havoc within client organizations and the creative process more generally.

Who would you most love to share a coffee with?

My mother and father. I lost them both two years ago, within six months of each other, and still miss them terribly.

Highlight of your career (so far?)

The first was getting to work with Harry MacAuslan, THE gentleman of advertising (now retired) and the second was persuading Susan Credle to come to FCB and be my creative partner.

What piece of tech can you not live without?

Sadly (and my wife will very much attest to this) – it's my bloody telephone.

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?

Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay. I read it when I was thirteen and it absolutely got to me. I loved the boxing, wildlife, Africa and personal narratives, but most of all, the constant reminder to “think first with your head and then with your heart.”

What one question do you never want anyone to ask you?

Why are you so obsessed with dim sum?

Best advice you ever heard or received?

Shut up and listen.

What do you still want to achieve in your career?

Balance.

What industry event is most important to you to attend and why?

Cannes. It saves me multiple trips around the world, as everyone is centralized there, and I get to talk about our industry with some of the most groundbreaking work all around us, to inspire and push us to always do better. It’s always long and busy work hours, but it all happens in a ridiculously civilized setting.

Check out other interviews as part of the 10 Questions With… series.

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‘Bang for our buck’: how MSIG's first-ever CMO plans to reinvent insurance marketing

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As the first-ever person to hold the chief marketing officer role at MSIG Holdings (Asia), Rebecca Ang Lee believes her most immediate priorities is to ensure alignment of the insurer in the online space, develop a regional sustainability direction, and promote digital transformation through innovation within the company and industry to stay relevant.

MSIG, which is a part of the Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company within the MS&AD Insurance Group, promoted Lee, who oversaw brand and communications and business excellence across ASEAN, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand as senior vice-president, in October.

Lee has wasted no time in getting down to work, ensuring that MSIG customers can expect dynamic websites with better user experience across its markets in the region. MSIG Vietnam was the first to complete the revamp early this year, with Lee pushing for more markets to complete their respective websites in the next couple of months.

“The new website was built with the users’ experience in mind and I am looking forward to getting our customers’ feedback. Content on our social media channels are also progressively evolving to better serve our customers,” she explains. “A success story to quote is MSIG Indonesia – we started out with less than 1k followers and achieved a substantial leap to about 90k today just after a year of introducing refreshed content.”

“We hope to replicate this success in the other markets, taking local preferences and nuances into consideration. Ultimately, our goal is to engage our customers with useful content that can aid them in their insurance purchase journey.”

MSIG’s sustainability agenda is now managed by the brand and communications team, which is led by Lee, after the creation of the sustainability taskforce for Asia. She explains this means she can embed the key messages into the group’s internal and external communications, therefore strengthening its brand building efforts.

“The goal is to ensure MSIG’s medium-term management plan ‘Vision 2021’, which emphasizes sustainability as a key focus for the group, is carried on. “With the creation of the sustainability taskforce for Asia, we hope to complement our group’s initiatives and achieve greater impact together,” she says.

“As sustainability is becoming an issue of growing importance around the region, and in the world, we have a responsibility to support this agenda. We will need to build a sustainability mindset and culture from within the organization, and are looking to collaborate with partners to engage and educate all staff.”

Lee is also trying to promote innovation within the company and industry through partnerships to catch up with its rivals like NTUC Income, which ranked the highest in Singapore when it comes to being future ready for digital transformation, while MSIG came in 22nd. It has since signed a deal with start-up accelerator Plug and Play which will see it become a founding anchor partner of Plug and Play’s Insurtech platform.

The platform aims to invest in and help local and international fintech and Insurtech startups to grow through connecting them to major financial institutions and insurers. It will also allow MSIG to build relationships with start-ups that are developing new technologies and solutions.

According to Lee, this partnership will help MSIG innovate and explore revolutionary ideas as technology is changing at a pace where it is forcing the industry to undergo digital transformation especially in the more mature markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

“From the angle of internal communications, we explored different ways to engage our employees, creating thematic town halls that infuse the creative use of digital apps and tools to create a mindset change from within,” she says.
“The pace of technology also impacts the media channels and landscape. Digital no longer just means website and social media channels. While people are consuming news through social media, they are also getting their entertainment from Netflix, using more smart devices and creating smart homes to manage their lifestyle. This means that consumer digital touchpoints are increasing with new channels to reach out to them. However, budgets are always limited, and the challenge is deciding where to place them to reach out to our desired target audience.”

MSIG's marketing strategy and its relationship with its agencies

With limited budgets and facing the challenges of reaching out to its desired target audience even as they get more connected than ever before and expect seamless experiences when they interact with brands, MSIG wants to focus on its unique selling points of providing great service quality and offering a seamless claims experience for its customers.

Lee, who spent more than two years in total working at agencies like Leo Burnett, Dentsu and Y&R before joining MSIG, is keen to tap on her experience as a communicator and a leader having been on both sides of the fence, to ensure MSIG’s marketing strategy over the long term is relevant and that the company will continuously innovate to improve customer experience.

For example, in Singapore, she points out MSIG was the first to introduce straight-through claims payout using FAST bank transfer, eliminating the time to process cheques and in Thailand, it introduced MSIG SpeeDi, where motor insurance customers are able to get phone assistance within 60 seconds with the touch of a button, have their location triangulated by GPS and sent to a motor surveyor who will arrive on scene within 30 minutes. For Malaysia, MSIG optimized its processes to save claims processing time by over 98% so that customers can get their payment quickly.

“It’s about putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes and challenging the status quo. We have a few customer segments depending on the insurance need, and we target them through consumer insights, behavior and content marketing both offline and online,” she explains.

“The advantage of using online channels is that we’re able to measure our KPIs. However, it does not just stop there, the data needs to be analyzed with follow up action plans to improve on future communication and targeting of our products to customers.”

Lee is also keen to stress MSIG’s marketing strategy cannot succeed if it is not open and honest with its agencies, the key to forging a successful partnership, as they will help them understand the company’s challenges. MSIG’s creative agency is M&C Saatchi and its media agency is Wavemaker.

In addition, she also sees agencies as an extension of her own team and will take time to share information and insights in MSIG’s discussions with its agencies.

“When I joined MSIG two years ago, our branding efforts were only beginning. We were looking for partners who understood our starting point and were keen to grow with us. Two years on, we see both agencies as partners in this journey of brand building, supporting us in our vision to develop MSIG Asia as the centre of excellence,” Lee explains.

Cutting through the noise

Presently, the insurance industry is a saturated one with both life and general insurers vying for a share of voice. It also does not help when there is little differentiation between life and general insurance brands in the eyes of a consumer.

Moving forward, Lee says MSIG approach is to get a ‘bang for our buck’, to be more strategic and creative in its messaging, positioning and targeting. Digital is always a part of MSIG’s media mix as it enables the insurer to target its customers better and is a more cost-effective channel.

“However, we still try to adopt a holistic approach as our research has shown that a combination of traditional and digital media still works best for us to achieve high awareness for a campaign. Also, apart from advertising, it is important to integrate all other customer touch points in the entire buying cycle, from discovery to purchase to repeat customers,” she explains.

“It’s about the synergies of messaging through 360 marketing including in-store experience, PR and research. Pre- and post-campaign research is crucial in understanding the most effective media channel and the research results are always used to improve the media mix for the next campaign.”

There are daunting tasks facing Lee as she tries to future poof MSIG for the future, but moving Lee into the newly-created CMO role is the first step by the insurer to getting there.

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Marketing Day: Pinterest retailer partnerships, the smart speaker market, Facebook Ads

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Here’s our recap of what happened in online marketing today, as reported on Marketing Land and other places across the web.

From Marketing Land:

Recent Headlines From MarTech Today, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Marketing Technology:

Online Marketing News From Around The Web:

The post Marketing Day: Pinterest retailer partnerships, the smart speaker market, Facebook Ads appeared first on Marketing Land.

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