The Queensland Department of Health works to support Queenslanders to live a healthy life and health supporting environments are key to achieving this. As we move around our communities we are exposed to advertising and marketing for a range of products and services.
In August – November 2020, the Department of Health undertook a pilot of a tool to audit the types of products and services being advertised in public advertising spaces.
As part of the study an audit tool was developed to classify the type of products being advertised including a system to classify food and drink being advertised as healthier or unhealthy, building on the National interim guide to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink promotion. The tool was tested and then used to collect data from across four major transport hubs in Brisbane.
All advertisements were assessed at each site resulting in information about 238 advertisements. Advertisements were categorised into 11 groups based on the primary brand category e.g. fashion or technology, with the most prominent primary brand category advertised being food and/or drink at 37%.
Additionally, all advertisements regardless of primary brand category were assessed as to whether they contained food and/or drink. 102 (43% of all advertisements) contained either food and/or drinks and all food and/or drinks included in these advertisements were classified as “healthier” in less than a quarter (21 or 21%) of cases.
Noting the limitations of the pilot in terms of size and convenience sampling, the pilot provides insights to the types of products and services that are being marketed in public spaces. Where food and/or drinks are included in advertisements, in the majority of cases the food and drink included was not classified as healthier.