Copenhagen 23 November 2020: Simple Feast, a sustainable food company that delivers environmentally friendly meals across California and several Nordic countries, has launched a junk food blocker. The blocker takes aim at junk food by replacing ads with gifs of vegetables. The goal? To make people aware of the influence “Big Food” has through its relentless marketing of tempting, yet highly damaging processed foods.
Every time we go online we have to accept that advertisers have been extended an invitation to join us, by paying our attention. We all know the drill. We go online with the best of intentions — to get the latest updates from our favorite news site, to find a healthy recipe for today’s dinner. Then we end up bombarded by pop-ups and banners that try to sway us with temptation.
Junk food blocker keeps processed food off your screen
Simple Feast has created a way to get rid of uninvited guests and block out the processed foods and junk that are trying to sneak into your digital life. The “junk food blocker” acts as your own personal bouncer on the internet. It rejects all ads and replaces them with gifs of the food you should be eating along with your vegetables.
The goal of the junk food blocker is to spark debate about the advertising we inadvertently expose ourselves and our children to. It highlights how frequently we get targeted by ads online. The ad blocker is free of charge. It’s aimed at providing inspirational and lighthearted support to free you from ads promoting food you don’t need. The blockers remind you of the food you do — the food that our climate and our bodies are asking for, provided by Mother Nature herself.
Junk food ad blocker protects children and vulnerable to junk food messaging online
Jakob Joenck, co-founder and CEO of Simple Feast explains: He continues: “With this ad blocker, we put focus on what processed food does for our well-being, using humor over preaching. Studies from the World Health Organization, WHO,* show that the more you are exposed to certain types of food, the greater the urge to eat it. We are more digital than ever before, and we and our children are constantly exposed to advertisements for processed food and junk food when in fact we should be eating more greens and more whole, unprocessed food.”
“When billions are spent every day worldwide on advertisements for food that has low nutritional value, often directly aimed at children, the green choice is under attack — and has been for decades. The food industry has a huge responsibility to feed our people the right nutrition, and therefore there is a need to adopt new methods for shutting out temptation from highly processed food, which is a great danger to both humans and our planet.”
Kickstart the debate around food
In 2018, Simple Feast launched the controversial “Quit Meat Helpline” which was created to help people reduce their meat consumption.
The debate generated massive international attention and several political figures and debaters quickly joined the conversation. With this new ad blocker, Simple Feast hopes yet again to kickstart a debate about our consumption and attitude toward food products in general.
The green choice is threatened every single day
With the ad blocker, Simple Feast will not only protect adults but also offers a solution for those parents who do not want their children to be exposed to ads aiming to sell food with a low nutritional value every single day:
“Simple Feast aims to get as many people as possible to eat clean, unprocessed, organic, and climate-friendly food. We believe that the first step is to block all advertisements for processed food, that we and our children receive during the day,” says Jakob Joenck from Simple Feast.
About the campaign:
The so-called “junk food blocker” has been available since November 23rd, 2020, and can be downloaded for free through Chrome Webshop. It works in all countries and will be launched internationally. It replaces all advertisements, including Simple Feast’s own advertisements, with ad-free vegetable banners. The blocker can be terminated at any time.
About Simple Feast:
Simple Feast delivers plant-based, organic meal boxes every week, ready to serve in 10 minutes. The goal is to give people an easy and delicious way to reduce their climate footprint. Serial entrepreneur Jakob Joenck is co-founder and CEO. He co-founded the running app Endomondo and played a key role in building the MyFitnessPal app. Both apps were sold in 2015 to the American brand Under Armour.
In 2019, Simple Feast completed a $33M capital investment round. The cluster of venture funds behind the investment includes Danish Byfounders, English Balderton, New York-based 14 W, and Swedish Sweet Capital, and is similar to the $12M investment raised in 2018.
WHO on marketing to children
According to the World Health Organization, food and drink marketing is a vast and increasingly sophisticated industry, and children are among its prime targets. Advertisements on TV, the Internet, and mobile phones are being integrated with sponsorship agreements and product placement to maximize their impact. Many advertisements promote foods high in fats, sugar, and salt, consumption of which should be limited as part of a healthy diet.
We are bombarded by unhealthy advertising
Food advertising and other forms of marketing have been shown to influence children’s food preferences, purchasing behavior, and overall dietary behavior. Marketing has also been associated with an increased risk of overweight and obesity in children. The habits children develop early in life may encourage them to adopt unhealthy dietary practices that persist into adulthood, increasing the likelihood of being overweight, obesity, and associated health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
“The majority of adverts seen by children around the globe are for heavily processed foods high in fat, sugar, salt and calories.”
Amanda Long, Director-General of Consumers International
“Food companies spend billions of dollars developing marketing that really works,” notes Amanda Long, Director-General of Consumers International, a global consumer rights organization. “The majority of adverts seen by children around the globe are for heavily processed foods high in fat, sugar, salt, and calories.”
Many governments are, however, expressing concerns about the impact of marketing on children. Countries like Spain and Norway have agreed with food and drink companies on self-regulation, whereby industries take the lead implementing voluntary restrictions on marketing, overseen by governments.
In Europe, the United Kingdom (UK’s) statutory ban on television advertising of foods high in fat, sugar, and salt during children’s programming was a world first. It broke new ground internationally for imposing more stringent conditions on the food and drink industries.
WHO calls for responsible marketing
In light of evidence from the UK and other countries worldwide, WHO has recommended that governments play a leading role in reducing children’s overall exposure to food marketing. Countries need to set rules on the persuasive techniques companies can use, with a view to protecting children from the adverse impacts of marketing. This is a key policy action contained in the WHO Global Action Plan 2013–2020 for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), which was endorsed by the World Health Assembly in May 2013. This accompanies the WHO’s existing set of recommendations on the marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children, endorsed by the Sixty-third World Health Assembly in 2010.
There are a growing number of people, companies, and food activists working hard to protect children and vulnerable consumers from aggressive junk food marketing. Indeed, WHO acknowledges that global progress will require policy action to address both TV advertising and all other forms of marketing.
Tackling food marketing to children in a digital world: trans-disciplinary perspectives. Children’s rights, evidence of impact, methodological challenges, regulatory options and policy implications for the WHO European Region (2016): https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/nutrition/publications/2016/tackling-food-marketing-to-children-in-a-digital-world-trans-disciplinary-perspectives.-childrens-rights,-evidence-of-impact,-methodological-challenges,-regulatory-options-and-policy-implications-for-the-who-european-region-2016