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​World Cup: Dentists warn against hi-tech sugary drinks ads targeting kids

14 June 2018


As the World Cup kicks off in Russia the BDA has cautioned that the unprecedented sophistication of promotions for high sugar products and junk food will dominate this year's tournament – whether you watch the match or not.  


It comes amid disclosure of the Coca Cola Company's marketing plans, that shows the drinks maker is pumping £2.5 million into a UK campaign that includes digital, social and out-of-home advertising, and promotion codes to unlock branded content in the top-selling video game FIFA 18.


Coca Cola's European Partners market research shows half the UK population are planning to watch this year's World Cup. They estimate 89% of their target consumers watched the 2016 UEFA Euros at home and 33% consumed soft drinks during matches.


The BDA warns that these increasingly intelligent, integrated marketing campaigns need to be tackled head-on by government or they will risk offering an increasingly outmoded strategy to tackle childhood obesity and tooth decay.


Advertising industry research has suggested extremely high levels of brand recognition for World Cup food and drink sponsors, with 48% recognising McDonald's, and 68% Coca-Cola as the tournament's long term official partners.


Colas are high in sugar, and even diet and no sugar varieties contain high levels of acid that contribute towards oral health problems. Tooth decay remains the number one reason for child hospital admissions among 5-9 year-olds in the UK.


BDA Health and Science Chair Russ Ladwa said:


"Once again the food industry is gambling on the World Cup being a sugary drinks bonanza. But this year they have some new tricks up their sleeve.


"Whether your kids are sitting in front of the match on TV, on their smartphones or games consoles, they will be unable to escape wall-to-wall promotions for products fuelling tooth decay and obesity.


"These increasingly sophisticated tactics demand a coherent response from government. When messages are being delivered seamlessly to children through tweets, apps and X-boxes, even talk of pre-watershed ad bans feels like 20th century responses to 21st century tactics. 


"It's never a good look when major sporting events go hand in hand with junk food barons. When we face such huge health challenges it's vital that Ministers understand just how far the industry's tentacles can now reach."


Sugar and children's oral health

Find out more about our campaigning work on sugar and children's oral health and check out our top tips for your patients.