The people’s award for undermining taxpayer-funded health promotion messages goes to…

(drum roll)

The people’s award for undermining taxpayer-funded health promotion messages goes to…

Mars Wrigley Confectionary, makes of Maltesers, a confectionary multinational who have just launched this Maltesers-inspired chocolate bar into Australia.


You’ll want to sit down for this, it urges in billboard advertising.

Clearly something momentous.  A new chocolate bar.  With Maltesers.  Call a press conference or something.

Sharing the billboard with and cleverly undermining a taxpayer-funded marketing campaign from the Australian Sports Commission which encourages Australian children to “find your 30” minutes of physical activity each day.

You can read more about their campaign here.

I wondered if they were taking the mickey.  Let’s move it Aus – find your 30!

Err…no.  Sit down, be a couch potato and snack on a British import that is 53% sugar and 30% fat.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 25% of Australian children are either overweight or obese.






3 responses to “The people’s award for undermining taxpayer-funded health promotion messages goes to…”

  1. Matthew Ginn Avatar

    How long before we see the equivalent of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 for food advertising? Are Australia’s health law specialists presently looking at this issue in any great number?


    Matthew Ginn
    Principal Trade Mark Attorney
    Acorn Trade Mark Attorneys


  2. rogermagnusson Avatar

    As a trade mark attorney, acting for those with an economic interest in protecting their trade marks and IP, you’ve asked an interesting question. Marion Nestle had a go at answering it here:

    It’s often said that food is different from tobacco: half of persistent smokers will die a premature and nasty death because of their smoking.

    However, at the global level, dietary risks may kill as many, perhaps even more than smoking. According to a recent Lancet study , 11 million deaths were attributable to dietary risk factors in 2017, headed by too much salt (3 million) and, perhaps surprisingly, low intake of whole grains (3 million) and low intake of fruits (2 million). See

    The trend in future seems pretty clear: we will see more regulation of food and the food industry that aims to inform customers of the dietary risks of food, and to reduce the burden of diet-related disease.

    In Australia, the regulatory tug-of-war is mostly being carried out in areas relating to labelling, and junk food marketing to kids.

    We’ve seen that with the recent public consultations over the best way to inform consumers about added sugars in food, and the future of the Health Star Rating System.

    But none of that has anything to do with mandatory plain packaging of food – which to my mind is a step too far. I support plain tobacco packaging. (The tobacco industry, of course, wants to link the two).

    That is not to say that law does not and will not control claims, packaging and will take steps to prevent consumers being misled.

    For example, the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes recommends countries implement a range of controls, including bans on point of sale advertising, and clear labelling to ensure that pregnant and lactating women are not misled into believing that infant formula, cleverly marketed by multinationals, is superior to a mother’s breast-milk.


    1. Matthew Ginn Avatar

      Thanks, Roger, for that considered reply.

      I too am sceptical about the plain packaging legislation. Not that it affects my own business – the big tobacco firms and other billion-dollar multinationals don’t turn to small players like us for help with their IP. Instead, I see plain packaging as poor public policy and worse legislation. However, now that it’s in place it is a great big hammer in the government’s toolbox. I won’t be surprised to see them reach for it again, especially over issues that can be twisted to play on the emotions.

      But even though we don’t have a dog in this particular fight, the legislation does affect us. In my firm, the issue is simply the uncertainty about where policy and legislation are heading. This uncertainty cuts in two directions. First, uncertainty can pose a challenge when advising clients. After plain packaging came in, the message is now that ‘your trade mark will be valid for ten years, unless the government changes its mind’. Second, the uncertainty created by plain packaging tends to undermine confidence in the trade mark system itself.

      While some might celebrate this, I don’t remember it being one of the objectives set out in the Explanatory Memorandum (nope, not there, I just checked).

      Interestingly, you note that importance of consumers not being misled. This is absolutely central to the trade marks profession, although of course from a different angle. I don’t think you’d get much argument from us on that point!

      Thanks once again for taking the time to reply in detail.



      Matthew Ginn
      Principal Trade Mark Attorney
      Acorn Trade Mark Attorneys


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: