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Media & Marketing: New rules for fast food ads leave sour taste in producers' mouths

ADVERTISING of junk food may be transformed forever after the British media watchdog outlined rules completely banning ads for "goodies" aimed at young people under 16 years of age. Irish media owners and advertisers weren't exactly pleased when new Irish rules for children's advertising were introduced last year. But the proposed British codes go farther than anyone anticipated and the impact is expected to be "enormous". Domino's Pizza has already announced that it is likely to scrap the long-standing sponsorship of The Simpsons on Sky One as a result of the new restrictions. Industry insiders expect this tough line to have a serious impact on Irish TV advertising, as multi-national food companies re-think how they advertise treats for children. British media regulator Ofcom's far-reaching crackdown on ads aimed at children under 16 proposes to ban ads for food with high fat, sugar and salt content. Fizzy drinks, crisps, sweets and even breakfast cereals will be affected. Channels broadcasting here, such as Nickelodeon, MTV and E4, will be the hardest hit. Brands which previously developed TV ads to cover both the British and Irish markets may now opt to stay away from television altogether. Ofcom's plan to bring in a total ban on adverts for food and drinks high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) appealing to under-16s relates to any time of day or night on any channel. Ad campaigns for these products across the 32 counties of Ireland may be "massively" reduced, according Nick Slaymaker of Dublin-based Mindshare, if different rules apply on both sides of the border. He described as "counter-intuitive" the fact that a Big Mac would pass the proposed codes while some breakfast cereals would not. In the UK, this development is expected to push an increasing amount of fast food advertising on to the internet. Mr Slaymaker believes that in Ireland this is less likely to happen as the digital market is not as developed here. Dominos has already said it is looking where it might redirect its Simpsons sponsorship spending. Mr Slaymaker believes that advertisers in Ireland have been relatively responsible. "Food manufacturers here are more stringent then the (Irish) codes anyway, and there is a lot of self policing," he said. The Irish children's codes require that food ads should not encourage unhealthy eating and fast food ads must state that this type of food "should be eaten in moderation and as part of a balanced diet". These Irish rules came in ahead of the proposed Ofcom codes and Irish broadcasters had claimed they were at a disadvantage to their British counterparts. However, the Irish version now appears moderate. Joe Dalton of Precision Media said: "Most of the TV stations were expecting Ofcom's measures to be aimed at protecting children under nine years of age, and as such were shocked to hear that Ofcom raised the restrictions age to children under 16 years of age." "The new measures also apply to sponsorship, the implications of which are severe for children's channels such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and possibly MTV," he said "The fallout in the UK TV market because of the restrictions is expected to be enormous as it will affect big TV brands or spenders like McDonalds, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Pizza Hut." The British watchdog will carry out a short consultation to seek views on extending restrictions to protect these older children. It will close before Christmas with the final determination in January 2007. Samantha McCaughren Mobile adverts get a move on IRISH companies have found a new way to advertise their products, with the launch of Ireland's first mobile advertising campaign last week. But advertisers say that caution is required in order to respect consumer privacy.

Users of 02 Ireland's internet service, i-mode, can currently access advertisements for confectionery company Cadbury Ireland on their mobile phones. Customers can enter a Cadbury's micro-site, specially designed for use on a mobile phone, by clicking on a Cadbury banner on their i-mode homepage.

The mobile advertising campaign was launched by Irish mobile marketing company Return2Sender. The company's managing director, Donald Douglas, predicted strong growth in the mobile advertising sector as companies look beyond direct advertising via SMS.

"In Ireland it's estimated that over half of those with mobile phones can access the mobile internet so we expect to see a large number of companies integrating mobile advertising when planning campaigns over the next year," Mr Douglas said.

Mr Douglas added that advertisers had already shown considerable interest in mobile marketing. To date mobile advertisers have been somewhat limited, according to Mr Douglas, but changing technology and new methods means that the mobile technology market looks set to boom.

As more mobile users begin to access television on their phones, either live or via podcast, advertisers are closely watching the sector, according to Fiona Scott, media director at advertising firm McConnells.

Eamon Clarkin, planning director with advertising agency Irish International BBDO, said that mobile advertising is exciting as it introduces another potential way of communicating with customers.

He said that the new medium would create new obligations for advertisers. Clarkin said that advertisers would need to be "very careful" due to the personal importance of mobile phones.

Scott also warned that companies who plan to use mobile advertising could face difficulties, given the private nature of a person's mobile phone. Scott said that advertisers need to tread carefully in order to strike a balance between effective advertising and invading the privacy of mobile phone users.

Emma Kennedy

West wakes up to new TV channel

UPC Ireland, the new parent company of NTL Ireland and Chorus, has won an exclusive deal to broadcast City Channel Galway on its basic analogue and digital TV packages.

The dedicated channel marks the expansion for City Channel in the West and follows the City Channel launches in Waterford and Dublin. City Channel Galway will commence broadcasting from today and will transmit a dedicated Galway service from 6.30pm to 8pm every evening.

It promises " a strong mix of lifestyle, entertainment and information with subjects that will appeal to Galway audiences."

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David Harvey, Chief Executive of City Channel, said the station would be providing " a new and dedicated television service to Galway people and businesses across the city and county."

The channel will broadcast programmes including property, motoring, fashion, happenings, finance, leisure and current affairs in addition to a mixture of news, weather and traffic updates.

The Pitch

Most of us agree that The Dubliner's decision to published fake nude pictures of Tiger Woods's wife Elin Nordegren wasn't in the best of taste.

Tiger Woods was naturally very upset about the doctored and his unhappiness ensured that the story was big news across Ireland. Certainly far more people were aware of it than the 10,000 or so people who read the magazine every month.

Now Ms Nordegren is to sue the Dubliner, with the news making headlines in Ireland and further afield.

Woods and his solicitor obviously want to send out a clear message about the images which appeared on the internet. But if a court case goes ahead, how many hundreds of thousands - possibly millions - of people are going to learn of the whole unsavoury affair? And how many people have already Googled the image to have a gawk at the doppelganger on foot of the additional publicity?

Whether or not the Dubliner will get any benefit from this affair is a matter of opinion, but the only winner is probably the website which peddled these phoney pics in the first place.


On to more wholesome thoughts - Santa's coming soon and it wouldn't be Christmas without the the 'Late Late Toy Show'.

Those of us without children in our lives might groan at the thought of it, but this episode of the Late Late is consistently one of the highest-rating programmes on television every year. When it airs tomorrow, we can expect that over 900,000 people in the country will tune in.

RTE can be sure of audience loyalty on the night and are charging advertisers ?15,000 for 30-second advertising slots.

The show does not accept advertisements which promote toys. But the real trick is getting a product featured on the Late Late Toy show. Despite the fact that new gadget-type toys never seem to work during the live show, being featured on the programme can have a major boost to sales over the next three or so weeks.


It was interesting to see TV3 finally get its chance to apply for a radio station. The broadcaster's management has been interested in this prospect for some time. Sources say that former shareholder ITV was reluctant and this is why TV3 has never turned up in the licensing rounds.

But new owners Doughty Hanson may have looked at the tidy profits some Irish radio stations have made and are now backing management's interest in the sector.

The competition for the Midlands/North East regional licence will be one to watch.

Toy Show debut for new An Post ad

VIEWERS tuning in to the 'Late Late Toy Show' on RTE this Friday night will be the first to see An Post's inaugural corporate television advertising campaign.

The company has previously only ever used television advertising as part of its Christmas posting campaigns to inform consumers about the last date for sending postal items in the run up to Christmas.

The advertisement will air on RTE, TV3, TG4, Channel 6, Sky and E4 throughout December and again in Spring 2007. According to An Post spokeswoman, Anna McHugh, the company decided to launch the television advertising campaign to strengthen consumer awareness of the range of services it offers.

Emma Kennedy

Media contacts bible is set to go online

PR and media professionals may soon be able to access a guide to who's who in the industry at the drop of a hat, thanks to plans to put the Irish Media Contacts Directory online.

The directory, which is in its 16th year, was recently purchased by PR consultant Jack Murray from its founding editor, Mike Burns, for an undisclosed sum.

The twice-yearly directory, which is published twice yearly in May and November, contains contact details of over 20,000 people working in the Irish media.

Mr Murray said that he hopes to develop the business by expanding the range of contacts in the directory and by creating an online directory to complement the existing print edition.

Mr Murray is a former press officer for the Progressive Democrats and set up his own public relations consultancy, JMedia, in 2003. He hopes to have the online directory up and running by the middle of next year.

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