The Out of Home (OOH) industry has united through the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) to take an active role in limiting the public’s exposure to discretionary food and drinks.
The national OMA Health and Wellbeing Policy will restrict the advertising of discretionary food and drink products on out of home signs within a 150 metre sightline of a school.
The policy aims to meet community expectations and support government efforts to tackle overweight and obesity in Australia.
Working closely with industry, food groups, advertisers, health promotion experts and government, the OMA conducted extensive research on Australian and international best practice to inform this world-first policy.
The OOH industry will also donate up to $3 million each year to promote healthy diets and lifestyle choices on its signs.
The policy will restrict discretionary food and drink product advertising from areas within 150 metres of a primary or secondary school in Australia.
The wider industry will also offer its full creative support to the OOH industry to create efficacious and meaningful campaigns that will reach the targeted audience.
Annual meetings will also be held with key industry stakeholders and health promotion experts to assess the implementation and efficacy of the restrictions and the educational programs.
When asked why the policy is only coming into effect now, OMA CEO Charmaine Moldrich told B&T: “One of the things that our board always talks about is we know that it’s a privilege that we’re in the public space. And therefore, we need to be mindful of prevailing community standards for our part in a better world.
“We need to have our finger on the pulse of what the community is thinking and feeling. And given the growing concern about overweight and obesity in Australia, particularly in children, one of the things that we talked about was how can we actually make a difference to that.
“We’ve been talking to governments about it. We’ve been talking to health bodies about it, and we’ve been talking about it in our boardroom. We decided that we would lead the way, and we have previously in this way, by adding a placement policy for alcohol.
“It’s completely voluntary. It’s us offering something that is a guideline that we say we will adhere to.”
On whether she thinks advertisers will have a hard time getting on board, Moldrich said: “I don’t know yet. I think in principle, you’d have to be living in some sort of cult not to know that this is an issue that really affects all of us.
“And it’s an issue not just affects all of us in terms of how you’re feeling about your own personal health, but in terms of how much money taxpayers money goes into the health budget, to deal with the issue of problems of us not being as well as we could be as humans, not moving enough, and eating too much processed food.
“This is why I think this policy is really interesting. And we really thought about how it needs to be proportional. Because generally, these products are legal for sale. So we’re not trying to in any way shaming anyone. Advertisers are still able to advertise in other places, it’s just within this area. It’s proportionate to the problem we’re facing.”
The OMA has consulted with the Australian Food & Grocery Council (AFGC), the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), the Cancer Council, Diabetes Australia and the Heart Foundation on the new policy.
John Broome, CEO of the AANA said: “Advocating high ethical and professional standards across Australia’s marketing community is at the centre of the AANA’s work and we support the outdoor industry’s approach to discretionary food and drink advertising.”
The OOH industry has previously met communicating expectations around the advertising of alcohol, gambling and adult products, and these products are currently not seen within 150m sightline of schools.
The new policy will come to effect on 1 July 2020.
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