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What You See Is Not What You Get

PUBLIC VIEW: Thursday 22nd March 2018 @ 3.30PM


22nd - 27TH March 2018

A-side B-side Gallery,

352 Mare Street,

Hackney, LONDON E8 1HR

(opposite Hackney Central Station)

Children’s ‘graphic’ fightback against ‘false’ food advertising

Children and young people from Hackney are staging a ‘graphic’ fightback in protest at ‘false’ and misleading advertising from the food industry which targets young people to make bad food choices. Students and young people from Urswick School, Hackney Quest, Concorde and Forest Road Youth Clubs are holding an exhibition called What You See is NOT What you Get, showing graphic artwork that they have made calling on the food industry to stop ‘false’ and misleading advertising targeting their age group.

In Hackney, nearly half of 10 and 11-year-old children in the borough are overweight or obese and junk food and sugar is a major part of the problem.  Many strategies trying to tackle the issue of obesity in children, focus on healthy eating such as eating five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day or looking for reduced sugar and fat content in foods. The ‘sugar tax’ will be coming in next month. It will increase the price of drinks with high sugar content. However, it is very difficult for children to eat more healthily when they are bombarded by advertising which persuades them to eat junk food - food high in fat, sugar and salt.

Advertising to children does work. Studies by the University of Liverpool show that children eat more and eat more junk food when exposed to adverts. It has also been found that babies can recognise the McDonald’s M before they can speak and pick out brands on supermarket shelves by the time they are two or three years old.  So how can children resist?

A unique scheme managed by social enterprise Cordwainers Grow has been running in Hackney for the past few months. It does not tell children and young people how to eat healthily. Instead it reveals how advertising works – the strategies advertising companies use to target children and get them to buy their food. The scheme debunks popular myths and slogans from food advertising so that children will question what they are being sold and then can make more informed choices.

The inspiration for the exhibition title came from a female student at The Urswick School who was responding to an advertisement for Heinz tomato ketchup sauce, made by the company Kraft Foods. The strapline Heinz has used is “What You See is What You Get” with a picture of tomatoes to advertise their tomato ketchup but there is no mention of the fact that their sauce contains more than 22% sugar.

The children studied advertisements and packaging targeted at their age group and identified those that they thought were not telling them the whole truth, which upset them.

The reaction from the groups was that they felt betrayed and thought that they had been lied to. They are now calling on the food industry to be honest about what is in their food products without having to guess or use detective work. The group of children are demanding action:

they want less sugar in their food and they also want to pass their new knowledge onto others. They have made their own T-shirts, posters, slogans and placards in response.

Photo Opportunity

A group of children will be gathering in Hackney Town Hall Square at 3pm on Thursday 22 March for an ‘anti-junk walk’ with placards to the A/Side-B/Side Gallery in Mare Street, Hackney. A borough-wide poster campaign featuring the children’s work will be rolled out in the summer.


To follow the campaign on social media use #NotWhatYouGet Instagram: @moresweetlesssugar Twitter: @cordwainersgrow

The campaign and exhibition is in collaboration with Hackney Council and SugarSmart Hackney.

Quotes and slogans from children involved in the project

Advertising to kids is 100% bananas!

Notes to Editors

For further information on the campaign and project from Cordwainers Grow, please contact Kate Poland kate@cordwainersgrow.org.uk / 07714 288 286

For more information about Sugar Smart Hackney, please contact Mary Atkinson: 07949 146170 mjlatkinson@gmail.com

Other resources

Data on children’s exposure to advertising and its effects from the World Health Organisation: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/191125/e96859.pdf

Where The Lies Are, a film made in 2016 by children in Hackney, looking at how advertising is targeted at them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDqyPswPdpU&feature=em-upload_owner

Article on food advertising and children’s eating habits here: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/3002101/

Opening Times:

Thursday 01 March 12-5pm

Friday 2nd March  - Tuesday 6th March 10-5pm 

Show will close at 5pm Tuesday 06 March

Gallery opening hours: 10-5pm Friday–Tuesday, 12noon-5pm & 7-9.30pm Thursday





For further info or images contact info@asidebsidegallery.com +44 (0) 2085337258