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Burger King to have it their way with children's ad ban

LONDON - Burger King is to stop advertising during children's TV programmes from December 22, pre-empting Ofcom's decision next week on whether it should introduce a ban on fast food ads before 9pm.

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The fast food industry has been under mounting pressure from lobbyists, the government and health organisations about targeting children in ad campaigns, prompting some chains to adopt new marketing tactics.

Last week, health charity Sustain complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about Burger King's Double Whopper ad, which asked viewers if they were "man enough" to eat it, and questioning the masculinity of men who do not eat junk food.

Burger King's self-imposed children's TV ad ban has been met with scepticism from some health organisations. Paul Lincoln, chief executive of the National Heart Forum, said: "The real issue is will they stop advertising such foods before the 9pm watershed, not just around children's programmes."

The decision has also been criticised by some health campaigners because children do not solely watch children's TV, and Burger King will not stop advertising during soaps, sports, music and other youth-orientated shows.

Giorgio Minardi, Burger King's vice-president of north west Europe, said: "During the past six months in the UK, we have carefully considered this and other broad-spectrum initiatives regarding our marketing and brand positioning."

Until now, Ofcom has resisted calls for an outright ban on fast food ads before 9pm, claiming the decision would cost the broadcast industry too much money.

However, next week's decision is expected to mark a pivotal change in policy for Ofcom if it goes ahead with adopting a pre-9pm ban.

The news of Burger King's children's TV ad ban comes in the same week that the fictionalised version of Eric Schlosser's 'Fast Food Nation' hits UK cinemas. The film, directed by 'Slackers' and 'Before Sunrise' director Richard Linklater, looks at the health and environmental impacts of the fast food industry.

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