Trade group flags infant formula ads as breaching UK codes

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Trade group flags infant formula ads as breaching UK codes

Related tags: Asa, Kendamil, BSNA

The trade association for the infant formula industry has flagged a number of ads by Kendamil that they believe breach codes restricting the marketing of these foods.

According to the British Specialist Nutrition Association (BSNA), two Facebook ads for Kendamil, a UK-based formula milk manufacturer, contravened the country’s Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) by marketing infant formula.

The UK's regulator of advertising believed consumers would understand the references to infant formula in both ads to mean they were promoting Kendamil’s infant formula and not the follow-on formula as intended.

In response, Kendamil said they had been unaware of a distinction between the use of the terms “infant” and “baby” – terms used as basic descriptions of the product.

They said the ads had been amended to remove references to “Infant Formula”.

Current CAP codes in the UK state that marketing communications for infant formula are prohibited and must not confuse between infant formula and follow-on formula.

Use of images

This communication extends to the use of images, in which the ads included pictures of two babies that according to the regulators were not identifiable as being over the age of six months contributing  to the impression that it was an ad for infant formula.

The image of the two babies, showed them drinking from milk bottles and a link to the Kendamil website with the text “Kendamil Infant Formula A Premium Formula that Retains all the Natural Goodness and Benefits Full Cream Nutrients”.

One of the ads, seen in May 2020 also featured an ‘About’ section on Kendamil’s Facebook page that stated, “Kendamil is the only British-made infant formula proudly manufactured in the Lake District.

“Based on a unique whole-milk based formulation, Kendamil range includes formula products up to 3 years and weaning cereals to help your child thrive.”

The other paid-for ad included the caption “The only British Manufacturer of Baby Formula with No Palm Oil, No GMOs, & No Fish Oils”.

The CAP code also insists on absolute clarity on whether ads referred to infant formula or follow-on formula.

‘The ads must not appear again’

“The ads had the effect of marketing infant formula, which was prohibited under the Code,”​ states the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

“Because the amended versions of the ads confused between infant formula and follow-on formula, which was also prohibited under the Code, we concluded that the ads had breached the Code.”

“The ads must not appear again in the form complained about, or the amended form referred to by the advertiser,”​ ASA continued.

“We told Kendal Nutricare Ltd t/a Kendamil to ensure that their future marketing communications did not refer, either implicitly or explicitly, to infant formula and did not confuse between infant formula and follow-on formula.”

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