Tube bans advert featuring artisan cheeses for being 'too unhealthy'

Tube bosses ban advert featuring artisan cheeses because they are ‘too unhealthy’

  • An advert featuring ‘Cheese Geek’ Edward Hancock has been blocked by TfL

A tube advert featuring an artisan cheese guru has been blocked by Transport for London as it is deemed ‘too unhealthy’.

The transport network put the brakes on the ads last month as they did not comply with its advertising regulations 

TfL’s policy uses the Food Standards Agency’s model ‘to define foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt’, The Times reports. 

The rejcted ad by Workspace featured Cheese Geek, fronted by entrepreneur Edward Hancock and had the support of Dragon’s Den’s Steven Bartlett.

Posters were due to be shown on the Underground as well as the side of London buses in the campaign led by Workspace, which provides co-working spaces.

The ad campaign by Workspace featured Cheese Geek, fronted by entrepreneur Edward Hancock (pictured) and had the support of Dragon’s Den ‘s Steven Bartlett

In July, a poster for West End play Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding was banned by TfL bosses because it featured a wedding cake

Mr Hancock, a former fund manager who quit his job to set up Cheese Geek in 2017, dubbed the decision ‘crazy’.

He said he was ‘frustrated’ that adverts featuring fizzy drinks, alcohol and ultra-processed foods’ were given the go-ahead, but not for ‘artisan cheese’.

Mr Hancock said: ‘It’s because the government tried to simplify advice for people. But the problem is when you oversimplify it to such an extent . . . you get this issue with products that are actually proven to be very good for you.’



He insisted that artisan cheese ‘has been shown in numerous recent studies to be beneficial for health’.

In evidence, he mentioned a recent podcast in which Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology, told listeners there could be benefit to the gut from eating cheese. 

He said they should eat ‘small portions, little and often and to get diversity of cheeses, for diversity of microbes’.

Mr Hancock reviews the latest cheeses for his brand and is a judge at the World Cheese Awards, International Cheese & Dairy Awards, The British Cheese Awards and the Artisan Cheese Awards.

On his website, he states: ‘I didn’t come from a cheese or food background, I just love cheese. Tasting, exploring, sharing. 

‘But cheese can be pretty scary, overwhelming and intimidating to get into. I found that myself personally. 

‘I wanted to make discovering cheese easy, convenient and fun. I wanted every cheesegeek to be able to express themselves, whatever their cheese knowledge.’

A spokesman for Workspace said: ‘We’ll still be running this ad online and across social media, but it’s a shame we’re not able to do so on buses or the Tube.’

TfL has form when comes to banning advertising for unhealthy foods.

In July, a poster for a  West End play featuring a Victoria sponge cake was censored by the network and had to be redesigned.

Producers for the show Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding created a poster of the two main characters standing on top of a two-tier wedding cake. 

They spent nearly £20,000 on their marketing campaign and printed 200 posters which featured actors Ronnie Burden and Alabama Boatman ahead of the play’s opening night next Saturday, The Sun reported.

However TfL bosses decided to take the posters down as they promote ‘the consumption of high fat, salt and sugar foods’ and do not comply with the organisation’s advertising policy. 

Despite appealing against the decision, the show’s producers were forced to spend another £5,000 on a new ad campaign with the cake was removed.

Since 2019, TfL has barred advertising of junk food as part of a drive to cut down on childhood obesity.  Products considered to be high in fat, sugar or salt are not permitted to be advertised on the platforms or carriages.

Regarding the Workspace ad featuring Cheese Geek, a TfL spokesperson said: ‘The advert does not comply with our advertising policy, which uses the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) model to define foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt.

‘The rest of the advertising campaign for Workspace was deemed compliant and four different creatives will be running on our network.’

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