The ASA reviews children's advertising codes

11:50 AM, 20 October 2016

NZ’s children's advertising code to be strengthened

New Zealand Children's Advertising Codes to be strengthened

The recommendations from the Advertising Standards Authority's (ASA) review of the children's advertising codes has highlighted that New Zealand's existing advertising rules, with respect to children, were fundamentally sound, but could be improved to reflect new media trends.

As a result, New Zealand standards for advertising directed at children will reflect good international practice.

ANZA welcomed this review, even though the existing Codes have a high level of compliance, with very few complaints received.

"We strongly believe that regular reviews of all advertising codes are an important part of responsible advertising. In this case we felt it important for the review to be conducted by an independent panel (chaired by Retired High Court Judge Sir Bruce Robertson), with open public consultation. ANZA also successfully argued for the inclusion of public health representation on the Review Panel for the first time.

There is no escaping the fact that we live in a commercial world. This brings with it the potential risk of children viewing harmful or inappropriate material".

The ASA's role is therefore to make sure that the ads likely to be seen by children are appropriate and do not cause harm. The advertising rules surrounding children are deliberately strict and the latest review has reflected that.

A uniform approach

ANZA welcomes the consolidation of two current codes into a single code.

This reflects that there are a range of issues that advertisers must be mindful of with respect to children, such as safety and sexualisation. A single code will make it easier for both the public and advertisers to understand the rules.

Age definition

ANZA, however, is disappointed by some findings of the review, notably the definition of children as under 14 years of age which is higher than most countries (<12). The decision, to retain the status quo, ignores the clear evidence that young people, 12 and over, are able to decipher commercial messages for what they are.

The new code more clearly defines what it means to be targeting children (audiences of 25% or greater aged <14).

Compliance

We know advertisers are committed to comply with the new Code, and many will have their own policies that require a higher standard again. Many food and beverage advertisers are signatories to the International Food & Beverage Alliance (IFBA) Global Policy on Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children.

Thus, these advertisers are committed to increasing exposure of food and beverages compatible with a balanced diet and healthy, active lifestyle.

Next steps

The draft code and recommendations will now be considered by the ASA's Codes Committee, who will report back to the ASA Board. When the final Code has been signed off, there will be a 'grandfathering' period enabling advertisers to plan for new creative and media planning if required.

What are your thoughts on the strengthening of the children's advertising code? How much responsibility do we undertake as advertisers? All feedback, queries, and opinions are welcomed to lindsay@anza.co.nz

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