How to communicate in line with the new law on food and drink advertising to minors

As we know, in the upcoming months the new Food and Drink Advertising Law will take effect in Spain, which aims to prevent children from being the direct target of advertising drinks and foods high in sodium, sugars, sweeteners, fats or saturated fatty acids.

With the latest figures on child overweight and obesity, the PAOS Code, the system by which the sector was self-regulating, has proved to be insufficient for the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, so the regulations will be assimilated to countries such as Portugal or the United Kingdom, and the nutritional profiles established by the WHO will be set as measurement criteria.

This reality leads us to a question: how will I be able to communicate with the family consumer given the limitations of the law? It is true that when we have been communicating without restrictions for a long time, such an imposition limits our lateral thinking.  But as we see in The Modern Kids, the new limitations open a window of opportunity for brands that want to position themselves responsibly.

Let's take a look at the situation in Europe and see how food advertising to minors is regulated:

In 2019 Portugal passed a law to ban the advertising of foods with high amounts of salt, sugars or saturated fats to minors. Thus, this country bans the promotion of these products on radio and television from 30 minutes before and after their broadcast and during children's hours, within a radius of 100 meters from schools and playgrounds, or at events that may attract children or adolescents. Furthermore, they may not advertise on websites, social networks or mobile apps aimed at children under the age of 16.

In the case of the United Kingdom, the first European country to regulate this type of advertising, it has decided to tighten the laws, and by the end of 2022 it will be prohibited to advertise unhealthy foods on television programs and the internet from 5:30am to 9pm.

Norway is also an example that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has taken into account when creating this law but, unlike Portugal or the United Kingdom, in Norway they are committed to self-regulation and only for children under 13 years of age.

Spain would therefore become one of the pioneering states in the European Union in regulating food and drink advertising aimed at minors and could become an example for other countries that want to legislate in this area, such as Germany and Ireland, which have already announced their intention to do so.

Parents and children as increasingly informed consumers

Millennial parents are the most informed and fastest growing consumer group in the organic and organic sector as they are, for the most part, families concerned about food and healthy habits. These parents are actively working to establish a healthy relationship with food and choose the best ingredients for their children.

Their children will grow up looking at labels to find out about ingredients and will become increasingly informed about the origin and traceability of products. The culture of cooking is also deeply rooted in these children and it is possible that, in the future, they will look for new formulas and more sustainable and healthy food models.

The future of the sector

If we combine this trend among young families and society with the new legislation on advertising, we are left with a scenario in which food industry brands have to look for new ways to reach children and families, both in the formulation of their products and in their advertising strategies.


By adjusting the nutritional profile of foods so that they are increasingly closer to those set by the WHO.

By advertising responsibly and honestly to children and families.

Reinventing communication with new strategies and creativity to reach consumers.

Some companies have anticipated the way they’re communicating in line with the new Royal Decree and are already making moves in this area. This is the case of Unilever, which has announced in a press release that it will not promote its food and drink products to children under 16, nor will it work with celebrities or influencers under that age or who have their main audience in that age group. Until now, the multinational had these rules for audiences less than 13 years of age.

Brands such as Danone also collaborate in strategies such as Alimentando el Cambio, a social movement that promotes projects to change behavior towards healthier and more sustainable food in Spain in order to have a positive impact from childhood onwards.

The new reality requires a paradigm shift. The opportunity lies in new creative approaches and greater knowledge of the child and family segment.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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