The Hundred is a cricket tournament aimed at children and families, but KP Snacks’ sponsorship has stirred up discontent.
A paid-for Instagram post and an email sent out by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to announce its partnership with McCoy’s were deemed to be in contravention of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code for promoting ‘unhealthy’ food to underage audiences.
The ruling follows complaints received by the ASA from the Children's Food Campaign and Food Active, noting that not enough care was taken to ensure the campaign was not seen by children.
ECB’s email announced McCoy's election as the Official Team Partner of the Manchester Originals and carried both the ECB and McCoy’s logos. It also invited fans ‘to claim a free bat and ball to celebrate The Hundred’.
ECB admitted the email list had ‘erroneously’ included youngsters, having been sent to more than 29,000 ticket buyers, 326 of which were under the age of 16.
“We are sorry that due to an internal error an email promoting a giveaway of free cricket bats and balls was sent to a number of under 16s as well as the adults it was intended to be sent to,” it said in a statement.
“While the email contained a logo of one of our partner's brands, applicants were not required or encouraged to buy any products in order to apply for the bat and ball and the purpose of the competition was to get more people active. We are putting in place additional systems to ensure it does not happen again.”
The ASA also considered that insufficient precaution had been taken to ensure a post on Butterkist’s Instagram page had not been presented to audiences under the age of 16.
It added the post’s designers had failed to employ any interest-based factors, which might have excluded groups more likely to contain underage members.
Like the McCoy’s email, the KP Snacks’ popcorn brand encouraged consumers to enter to ‘win tickets to watch a sweet cricket game with Birmingham Phoenix in Birmingham this summer’.
Another five further Instagram posts were deemed suitable.
"We told The England and Wales Cricket Board Ltd and KP Snacks Ltd to take reasonable steps in future to ensure that HFSS [foods high in fat, salt and sugar] product ads were not directed at children through the selection of media or the context in which they appeared," said the ASA.
Acknowledging its role
KP Snacks said it was happy with the ASA’s ruling.
“We recognise that as a responsible food manufacturer we have an important role to play in helping people make informed choices and enjoy our products responsibly,” it said.
“Our partnership with The Hundred enables us to introduce the game to new audiences and the Everyone In campaign is based around inspiring more people to get active.
“We welcome the ASA ruling and we will be working closely with the ECB to take on board the recommendations.”