In an era of diverse marketing and advertising platforms, entertainment and modern culture, children from all over the world are exposed to a great number of marketing and advertising activities.
Children represent a huge market for advertisers. In addition to the purchasing spend they represent and the influence they exert on their parents’ shopping decisions, children who have not yet formed their tastes, desires and preferences become an ultimate target for advertisers and remain as such throughout adulthood.
Children today enjoy wide access to technology and marketing communications and it is evident that children are increasingly media literate. Due to their vulnerability, inexperience and lack of ability to critically reflect on the received information, advertisers should be especially diligent in protecting these young consumers from harmful, potentially deceptive and offensive information.
For example, marketing and advertising to the young generation must not encourage children to be involved in dangerous activities or undermine the authority of their parents. Therefore, advertisements must be regulated in terms of both the language and images they use and all the topics that might potentially cause negative effects on children must be excluded from both the programmes and the advertisements that might be watched by children.
Marketing communications need to be responsible and sensitive to children’s needs and levels of understanding. The Consolidated ICC Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice (www.codescentre.com) provides guidelines with respect to marketing communication addressed to children to ensure responsible marketing communications. The rules take into consideration the inexperience and credulity of children as well as the social and cultural values of society.
The Code advocates the basic principles that marketing communication should be legal, decent, honest and truthful and further delves into the aspect of data protection and privacy related specifically to children’s personal information. These issues are covered in the general provisions of the Code as well as Chapter D which focuses on Digital Interactive Media.
One particular point of concern is childhood obesity. In the US, for example, children are exposed daily to more than sixty advertising messages of which about 50% are on food, and they are not necessarily prepared to understand the health risks associated to malnutrition. Hence, children become especially vulnerable to food marketing, and this leads to problems such as child obesity, which is growing alarmingly among this segment of the population, as well as other deceases connected to unhealthy eating habits.
To address these issues and help advertisers and marketers to comply with the principles of responsible marketing communication, ICC sets forth the Framework for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing Communications setting out the principles for regulation of responsible food and beverage marketing communication related to children.
ICC encourages marketers and advertisers to follow these principles and meet their obligation towards responsible, honest and decent marketing communication to children.