For the purposes of the Code, a child is someone aged under 18.
The Authority acknowledges that parents and guardians have primary responsibility for children.
Children lack adults’ knowledge, experience and maturity of judgement. Marketing communications addressed directly or indirectly to children or marketing communications likely to be seen or heard by a significant proportion of them should have regard to the special characteristics of children and the ways in which they perceive and react to marketing communications.
The way in which children perceive and react to marketing communications is influenced by their age, experience and the context in which the message is delivered; marketing communications that are acceptable for young teenagers will not necessarily be acceptable for younger children. The Authority will take these factors into account when assessing marketing communications.
Marketing communications should contain nothing that is likely to result in physical, mental or moral harm to children or that is likely to frighten or disturb them, except to promote safety or in the public interest. In principle and subject to the qualifications above, the following rules apply.
(a) Children should not be portrayed in a manner that offends against accepted standards of good taste and decency.
(b) They should not be encouraged to enter into unsafe situations or strange places or talk to strangers, e.g. for the purpose of making collections or accumulating labels, wrappers or coupons.
(c) They should not be shown in morally or physically dangerous situations or behaving dangerously in the home or outside. Children should not be shown unattended in street scenes unless they are old enough to take responsibility for their own safety.
(d) They should not be encouraged to engage in, or be portrayed engaging in, anti-social behaviour; where they appear as pedestrians or cyclists they should be seen to observe the Rules of the Road. Special attention should be paid, where relevant, to the use of child car seats and the wearing of car seat-belts and safety helmets.
(e) Younger children in particular should not be shown using or in close proximity to dangerous substances or equipment without direct adult supervision. Examples include matches, petrol, gas, medicines and certain household substances, as well as certain electrical appliances and machinery, including agricultural equipment.
(f) An open fire in a domestic scene should always have a fireguard clearly visible when a young child is included in the scene.
(g) Given that children may imitate what they see in marketing communications, they should not be encouraged to copy any practice that might be unsafe.
Marketing communications addressed to children should not exploit the loyalty, credulity, vulnerability or lack of experience of children. For example:
(a) They should not be made to feel inferior or unpopular for not buying an advertised product.
(b) They should not be made to feel that they are lacking in courage, duty or loyalty if they do not buy or do not encourage others to buy a particular product.
(c) Marketing communications should not undermine the authority, responsibility or judgement of parents, guardians or other appropriate authority figures.Marketing communications should not include any appeal to children to persuade their parents or other adults to buy advertised products for them.
(d) A product that is part of a series should be clearly indicated as such and marketing communications should include the method of acquiring the series.
Marketing communications addressed to children:
(a) should not feature products that are unsuitable for those children;
(b) should not exaggerate what is attainable by an ordinary child using the product and should not make it difficult to judge the actual size, characteristics and performance of any product advertised;
(c) should not ask them to disclose personal information about themselves or their families without having first obtained permission from their parents or guardians;
(d) should not minimise the price of products by the use of such words as “only” or “just”.
Advertisers should take particular care when packaging products that may fall into the hands of younger children.
Food and Beverages
Marketing communications for food and beverages addressed to children:
(a) should not denigrate a healthy lifestyle or encourage an unhealthy lifestyle or unhealthy eating or drinking habits; marketing communications representing mealtime should clearly and adequately depict the role of the product, where appropriate, within the framework of a balanced diet; snack foods should be clearly represented as such, and not as substitutes for meals;
(b) should not mislead children as to the potential benefits from consumption of the product, either physically, socially or psychologically.
Marketing communications for food and beverages representing any material characteristics of the product including size and, content, as well as nutritional and health benefits, should be accurate and should not mislead children concerning any of those characteristics, or the intended use of the product.
In addition to complying with the provisions set out in Section 3 – Promotional Marketing Practices, promotions addressed to or likely to attract children:
(a) should not offer promotional products that are unsuitable for distribution to children;
(b) should be carried out responsibly, taking into account the location in which the promotion is conducted;
(c) should make it clear that parental permission is required if prizes and incentives might cause conflict between children and their parents; examples include animals, bicycles, outings, concerts and holidays;
(d) should allow a sufficient timeframe for participation in a manner that will reflect moderate consumption of a product;
(e) should clearly explain the number and type of any additional proofs of purchase needed to participate;
(f) should contain a prominent closing date;
(g) should not exaggerate the value of prizes or the chances of winning them;
(h) should not exploit children’s susceptibility to charitable appeals.