The Regulations on Children Advertising

Litmus Branding
by Litmus Branding  |  29th Jul, 2015 in Advertising

…. Are they Necessary?


If your business is one that markets products and services exclusively to children, there are certain regulations you may be aware of, such as:

–  Children below 18 years of age cannot purchase products that contain tobacco
–  Children below 21 years of age cannot purchase liquor

But do you know that there are restrictions on other products’ advertising too – such as toys, junk food or violent video games? A few real life instances could shed some light here.

McDonald’s Happy Meal: An advertising watchdog concluded that the focus of McDonald’s MCD -0.29% ad was more on the toy packed into the Happy Meal than the food itself. Also, Children’s Advertising Review Unit, a self-regulatory authority objected on a 30 second ad of Happy Meals which promoted the “Teenie Beanie Baby Boo” toys that were included in the meal but were not featured on the packaging.

Amitabh Bachchan’s Dilemma on Children Advertising: Recently senior Bachchan decided to call off an endorsement deal with a cola brand when a schoolgirl asked him how come he was promoting poison. Now, he is in a soup for his new advertisement for Parle’s ‘Kachha Mango Bite.’ The ad features Bachhan hurling stones at a mango tree. The ASCI (Advertising Standard Council of India) thinks it sets a bad example to the children.

Children can be easily influenced therefore child-centric advertisements need to be cautious and super sensitive. Some food-related advertising have become a major cause for obesity in children.

Presently following brands feature children in their advertisements:

Modelez’s Oreo Biscuits
Nestle’s Maggi Noodles and Pasta

And not just featuring, they also use tactics to attract children’s attention. For instance,

Colgate offers cartoon booklets free with their toothpastes.
Pepsodent advertising implies that it’s ok for children to crave sweets, confectionery and spicy snacks if they remember to brush their teeth afterwards with Pepsodent. The objective was to prove that children who use Pepsodent can remain immune to tooth decay.
Horlicks and Complan claim to make children smarter and taller. However, there is no scientific data in support of such tall claims.
Honey Monster, a cereal company suggests that honey is good for children while it is just as bad as sugar. The company has been hauled up for making a bogus health claim by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The advertisement of Maggi 2-minutes noodles is another case in point. It can be counterproductive to show Maggi as a replacement for wholesome breakfast.

Nestle can’t say that making poories and parathas is a tedious chore It then showed that these items were not liked by kids either
– It can’t say that ‘Maggi noodles’ represents a smart choice because it can be  made in two minutes.

To cut a long story short, brands, retailers, consumer groups and regulators need to appreciate the main objective behind advertising and remember that they need

–  To be mindful about serving the best interests of the child
–  Their advertising cannot be emotionally-charged
–  They need to engage their audience in a child-appropriate manner
–  And, above all, they need to be truthful not boastful.

What do you say?

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