Fanta loses fizz: Ad and app pulled for directly marketing to kids

15 Jul 2015


A Fanta television advertisement and mobile phone app have been pulled after the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) found they broke the rules by directly marketing an unhealthy drink to children.

The decision comes after the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) lodged an official complaint about the Fanta TV ad and app in May.

As a signatory to the Responsible Children's Marketing Initiative (RCMI), Fanta's manufacturer Coca-Cola has committed not to advertise its products to children under 12 years unless those products represent healthier choices.

OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin was pleased with the determination.

"Fanta is packed with sugar, one 450 ml bottle has around 14 teaspoons of sugar, making it an extremely unhealthy option which should not be promoted to children," Ms Martin says.

"Yet in a blatant attempt to appeal to kids, the Fanta TV ad and app feature young and playful cartoon characters called the ‘Fanta Crew' who talk about and drink Fanta. They use child-like imagery such as a rollercoaster, other theme park rides and a playground, as well as wording such as ‘bubble explosion' and ‘it's always full of fun' to engage children.

"At a time when 25% of Australian children are overweight or obese, it is extremely unethical for Coca-Cola to aggressively promote their high sugar products to children in this manner, in breach of their own undertakings.

"We are very pleased to see that our complaints to the ASB have been upheld and that Coca-Cola has removed the ad from television and the app from the iTunes store, although the app is still available from Google Play."

The OPC also lodged a complaint against the Fanta website, but it was dismissed by the ASB largely because it lacked interactive elements or games.

"The Fanta website is part of the same marketing campaign, it uses the same child-focused imagery and messaging and promotes the same unhealthy product as the TV ad and app, yet in a seemingly inconsistent move the ASB does not believe the website breaches the RCMI," Ms Martin said.

"This highlights just some of the issues associated with the self-regulation of advertising and marketing by the food and beverage industry. There is no independent governing body to enforce the code and other regulations and no meaningful sanctions for breaches, leaving the health of Australian children in the hands of Big Food.

"The OPC is calling on Coca-Cola to do the right thing and pull down the Fanta website and ensure that the Android version of the app is also removed from the Google Play store to ensure it is no longer available via any medium in Australia." 

About the ASB Fanta decisions

Fanta Fruit Slam 2 app: The ASB found that the interactive game on the app was directed primarily to children aged 9-12 years given it featured cartoon style characters having fun and doing things children in this age group would aspire to do as they approach their teenager years, such as going to the beach with friends, and for reason of its colourful nature and simplicity.

Screenshot of Fanta app 

Fanta ‘Tastes Like' TV ad: The ASB found the ad to be directed primarily to children given the images used (particularly of animated characters riding on a roller coaster and then jumping into a pool filled with bubbles, and at the park with friends) which would be of primary appeal to younger children who aspire to be teenagers, as well as the simplistic and child-like style language used.

Screenshot of Fanta TV ad 

Fanta website The ASB dismissed the website complaint largely on the basis that the absence of any interactive element or games (and featuring of downloads and nutrition information) would limit the appeal of the website overall to children under 12. It found that "the overall theme of the website was one of colour and including 'cool' looking characters that would have some appeal to children but was not directed primarily to children". It referred to its determination on the TV ad and app but distinguished the website on the basis that the characters are introduced with descriptive text and stationary images which may appeal to children but are not directed to children. It also considered the language used to be more complex and therefore not aimed at children.

Screenshot of Fanta website