TV food advertising to move below-the-line

Media agency buyers fear much of the £39m which Ofcom estimates will be lost from TV because of its crackdown on junk food advertising will be withdrawn from traditional media altogether.

"Some will go into digital, but I think a lot of it will go into below-the-line marketing," said Simon Bevan, head of TV at Vizeum. "The worrying thing is that brands that have been traditionally strong TV advertisers are going to be lost to the medium."

Chris Hayward, head of investment at ZenithOptimedia, said: "Certainly I think some of this revenue will be lost to advertising full stop, but in outdoor and in online there are still opportunities, and also in press."

Azon Howie, director of TV, radio and cinema at Carat, said: "Online and outdoor will be big beneficiaries. The big problem is that it is more money coming out of the TV market at a time it can ill afford it."

"People knew it was coming," added Richard Oliver, broadcast director at Universal McCann. "Every advertiser will have made plans about expenditure that they will take out of TV, although I'm not sure the effect will be massive."

Consumer goods represent about 4.6% of online advertising spend, with junk food a smaller subsection of that figure. In outdoor, food advertisers account for 5% of spend - around £38m a year.

Wayne Arnold, Profero managing director and IPA Digital chairman, estimated as much as £10 to £15m of the £39m spend lost to television could come to online.

He said: "There is much penetration of these advertisers' core audience online, from 12 year olds to 20 year olds. The challenge is that by just moving spend they are passing the problem from one channel to the next. They need to work out how to use it as an effective medium."

Press buyers are predicting more activity in their patch from junk food advertisers, including advertorials in women's magazines. However, many childrens' titles, while accepting some junk food advertising, have a policy against being seen to endorse these products through sponsorships or promotions.

Caroline McDevitt, MD of IPC Advertising, said: "Magazines that reach parents, especially young mums, should benefit as brands will want to promote their conscience. We set up the Great Food Debate last year to acknowledge this, producing a series of advertorials for McDonalds."

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