A sponsorship tie-up between the ECB and KP Snacks has landed in trouble after an ad campaign run by The Hundred and the snack company was banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for breaching its code.
The ASA received two complaints – from the Children’s Food Campaign and Food Active – drawing attention to a co-branded email sent to an ECB mailing list which contained the text: “we’ve teamed up with McCoy’s, Official Team Partner of the Manchester Originals, to offer you the opportunity to claim a free bat and ball to celebrate The Hundred”.
An Instagram advert from Butterkist, a KP brand, promoting free giveaways, was also found to be breaching ASA’s code, with the caption reading: “WIN tickets to watch a sweet cricket game with Birmingham Phoenix in Birmingham this summer”.
The ASA noted that the two ads broke UK rules that banned foods high in fat, salt, and sugar from being targeted toward under-16s.
“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,” the ASA noted.
It was revealed that, out of 29,576 email recipients of the campaign, 1.3 per cent of the accounts belonged to people aged 16 or under.
The tie-up has been in the eye of the storm ever since health campaigners pointed out the risks of targeting junk food at children, especially with The Hundred looking to attract youngsters to the game. Simon Stevens, the then chief executive of NHS England, had publicly condemned the sponsorship in 2019, calling the deal “disappointing” in the face of the “obesity pandemic” that was creating extra demand on the NHS.
In a statement, a spokesperson on behalf of The Hundred apologised for the “internal error”, insisting that the applicants “were not required or encouraged to buy any products in order to apply” for the contest.
“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,” the spokesperson said.
“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.”