TfL ad revenues unscathed by junk food ban
Advertising revenues across the Transport for London (TfL) network have gone up £1m since the introduction of the junk food advertising ban, but one stakeholder says TfL could be missing out on millions.
The first official TfL quarterly figures reveal that between April 1 and June 22 this year advertising revenues have gone up to £33m compared to £32m the previous year.
It is the first time a full quarter's ad revenue figures have been disclosed by TfL since the ban was introduced in February this year.
Some observers had expected TfL advertising revenues to be dented by the ban, with some speculating of an annual loss of up to £35m.
The banning of advertising HFSS (high in fat, salt or sugar) products on London Underground, Overground, buses and bus shelters is part of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to tackle the “ticking time bomb” of child obesity in the capital.
Chris Macleod, director of customer and revenue, TfL, said: “The income we receive from our advertising estate remains stable.”
“In the first quarter of this financial year, our advertising income was £33 million: up £1 million on the first quarter of last year. We continue to work with the advertising industry and brands to promote healthier alternatives across the network.”
The £33m was down from £47m the previous quarter, but the previous quarter figure includes revenues from incentives from advertising contracts and is for a longer period.
Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist, Public Health England, told a Health and Social Care committee the ban was a “win win” for everyone as healthier foods were being advertised.
But Outsmart, the body which represents the outdoor advertising industry, argues that TfL might be missing out in millions.
It pointed to industry figures, carried out by accounting firm PwC, showing the overall outdoor advertising market was up over nine percent (9.2 percent) in a similar period on the year, meaning that if TfL figures were in line with the market, its advertising revenues would be up nearly £3m.
Tim Lumb, insight director of Outsmart, said: “advertising revenue across outdoor as a medium has gone up quite significantly and there is no reason why TfL would not benefit from that overall growth.
“We don’t know what TfL’s ad revenues would be had the ban not happened. We don’t know how many campaigns TfL has turned down because they were either directly advertising an HFSS product, or contained an HFSS product in the creative.
“For example a milkshake in an ad for a credit card. This might explain why advertising revenues on the TfL estate are not increasing as fast as the market."
TfL has made a number of controversial decisions since the ban was introduced.
It allowed a bucket of KFC to be promoted but rejected an advert for Farmdrop, which delivers fresh produce across London.
TfL also decided to remove strawberries and cream from its own Wimbledon advert because it thought it would contravene the rules by promoting a fatty food.
In June this year, transport chiefs changed their “confusing” junk food advertising rules, with six of the 10 advertising policy rules revised to try and bring more clarity.