Rules of engagement: how advertisers must treat pupils;Resources

4th June 1999 at 01:00
The effect of advertising on children or the use of children in advertisements are both sensitive issues. The British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion set out definite requirements.

When dealing with complaints about advertisements featuring or aimed at children, the Advertising Standards Authority is guided by the following basic principle: "Advertisements should contain nothing which is likely to result in physical, mental or moral harm to children, or to exploit their credulity, lack of experience or sense of loyalty."

nuisance: Advertisements targeting children should not actively encourage them to make a nuisance of themselves to parents or others. Neither should they encourage children to feel inferior or unpopular for not buying the advertised product. One magazine advert for a children's television channel was criticised by the association for suggesting that children without access to it should complain to their parents.

Easy to understand: Advertisers should clearly state the price of a product featured and should not exaggerate its appeal or performance.

Direct appeals: Goods considered too expensive for the majority of children should not be advertised to them. An electronics firm advertising computer software at prices starting from pound;40 in a children's publication was criticised because most children would not be able to afford them.

Responsible: Advertisements should not encourage children to eat or drink at or near bedtime, to eat frequently throughout the day or to replace main meals with sweets and snacks.

Parents' permission: Advertisements should make it clear to children that they must obtain permission to buy complex or expensive products. For promotions where the prizes may cause a conflict between parent and child, consent is also required.

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