In its decision dated 11.02.2020 and numbered 2019/9931, the Advertisement Board examined a campaign regarding free ice tea coupons accompanying potato chips and the advertisement of the referred products. The Advertisement Board held that the said campaign and the referred advertisements are compliant with the Consumer Protection Law numbered 6502 and the Advertising Regulation and imposed no sanction against these promotions.
Shortly after the decision mentioned above, in its decision dated 12.05.2020 and numbered 2019/12332, the Advertisement Board examined the promotional practice of a confectionery company by which the said company’s confectionery was given as a gift alongside a pencil case for children. The Board concluded that the pencil case product is especially for the attention of school-age children, that the promotional practice in question is a marketing practice of the company’s main confectionery – chocolate products. Therefore, referred practice encourages children to consume the confectionery and chocolate products included in the “Foods Not Recommended for Over-Consumption”, the red category of Nutrition Profile Guide Food and Beverage List prepared by the Science Committee of the Ministry of Health. So the said practice is incompliant with the principle of “getting children and youth adopt a healthy and balanced eating habit”, which is crucial in improving public health, and decided to cease these promotions and advertisements.
The Advertisement Board examined the promotional practices of presenting various toys with the children menus of several fast-food restaurants in its decision No. 2020/182 on May 12 2020. It ruled that the practice of giving various toys with the children menus offered by fast-food restaurants is not contrary to Consumer Protection Law Article 61 and the 3rd paragraph of Article 24/A of Advertising Regulation, provided that any food or beverage under the red category of Nutrition Profile Guide Food and Beverage List, which is prepared by the Science Committee of the Ministry of Health, was not included in the children menus.
These decisions are very important and exemplary in determining the scope of the restriction on the gifts given with the food products. As set forth by Article 24/A (3) of the Advertising Regulation, “In the context of the practices aiming for increasing the sale of foods whose excessive consumption is not recommended, the products oriented to the interests and tastes of children other than the main product shall not be given as a gift with the product.”
Article 24/A (3) of Advertising Regulation is a relatively recent rule under Turkish law. It was highly criticised due to the definition lack in the technical terms in the disposition and the ambiguity of the disposition itself because no information or definition is provided regarding the terms “gift” and “marketing techniques” in the disposition.
The recent decision of the Advertisement Board confirms that not all free items and food products are banned, but only the free items that directly appeal to the interest and taste of children should not be given as a gift. Although it is not explicitly interpreted in the decision what should be the free gifts or marketing techniques, it is acknowledged by the conclusion of the abovementioned decisions that free ice tea coupons are not considered within the scope of gifts and marketing techniques which directly appeal to the interest and taste of children. However, it is observed that pencil cases and confectionary gifted along with the pencil cases are considered gifts and marketing techniques that directly appeal to children’s interests and tastes. It is seen that the target of the free ice tea coupons are not considered children as they appeal to the interest and taste of everyone but not only children. In its examination of the promotion where confectionery products are gifted along with the pencil cases, the Advertisement Board focuses on the fact that the promoter is a confectionery company aiming to promote its products to the children using the promotion.
While there is no hesitation that the gifted toys, collection products oriented to the children and the stickers along with the food products whose excessive consumption is not recommended are prohibited within the scope of the disposition; the Advertisement Board’s decision above provides insight on which similar products are within the scope of the prohibition.