If you have a complaint about an advertisement please contact Ad Standards
If you have a complaint about an advertisement please contact Ad Standards

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Self-Regulation

The object of this Code is to ensure that advertisers and marketers develop and maintain a high sense of social responsibility in advertising and marketing to children

Children’s Advertising Code

This Code has been adopted by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) as part of advertising and marketing self regulation. The object of this Code is to ensure that advertisers and marketers develop and maintain a high sense of social responsibility in advertising and marketing to children in Australia.

This Code is accompanied by a Practice Note which has been developed by the AANA. The Practice note provides guidance to advertisers and complainants, and must be applied by the Ad Standards Community Panel in making its determinations. In the event of any ambiguity the provisions of the Code prevail.

SECTION 1 DEFINITIONS

In this Code, unless the context otherwise requires:

Advertising or Marketing Communications means: a. any material which is published or broadcast using any Medium or any activity which is undertaken by, or on behalf of an advertiser or marketer,

  • over which the advertiser or marketer has a reasonable degree of control, and
  • that draws the attention of the public in a manner calculated to promote or oppose directly or indirectly a product, service, person, organisation or line of conduct,

b) but does not include

  • labels or packaging for products
  • corporate reports including corporate public affairs messages in press releases and other media statements, annual reports, statements on matters of public policy and the like
  • in the case of broadcast media, any material which promotes a program or programs to be broadcast on that same channel or station.

 Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children means Advertising or Marketing Communication which, having regard to the theme, visuals and language used, are directed primarily to Children and are for Product. The Community Panel shall have regard to the Practice Note to this Code in determining whether Advertising or Marketing Communication are to children under this definition.

Alcohol Products means products which have some association with alcohol including alcoholic beverages, food products that contain alcohol or other products that are associated in some way with alcohol including in the sense of being branded in that way.

Children means persons 14 years old or younger and Child means a person 14 years old or younger. Community Panel means the panel appointed by Ad Standards from time to time, the members of which are representative of the community, to administer a public complaints system in relation to Advertising or Marketing Communication.

Medium means any medium whatsoever including without limitation cinema, internet, outdoor media, print, radio, television, telecommunications, or other direct-to-consumer media including new and emerging technologies.

Premium means anything offered either free, at a reduced price, or with an additional cost and which is conditional upon the purchase of an advertised product.

Prevailing Community Standards means the community standards determined by the Community Panel as those prevailing at the relevant time in relation to Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children. Prevailing Community Standards apply to Section 2 below. The determination by the Community Panel shall have regard to Practice Notes published by AANA and any research conducted by the Ad Standards.

Product means goods, services and/or facilities which are targeted toward and have principal appeal to Children.

SECTION 2 CODE OF PRACTICE

2.1 PREVAILING COMMUNITY STANDARDS 

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children must not contravene Prevailing Community Standards.

PRACTICE NOTE

This Practice Note is provided as a guide to interpretation to assist advertisers, their agencies and the community. The interpretations in this Practice Note are based on the AANA’s intent in relation to the Code and relevant determinations of the Ad Standards Community Panel. This Practice Note must be applied by the Ad Standards Community Panel in making its determinations. In the event of any ambiguity the provisions of the Code prevail. The Practice Note may be amended by the AANA from time to time.

‘DIRECTED PRIMARILY TO CHILDREN’

Advertisements or marketing communication which are “directed primarily at children” are subject to this Code. Whether an advertisement or marketing communication is “directed primarily to children” is an objective test based on the factors described below.

It is a combination of visual techniques, product and age of characters and actors which will bring marketing communication within the ambit of the Code. The use of any one factor or technique in the absence of others may not necessarily render the marketing communication “directed primarily to children”. The assessment requires a weighing up of the factors described below and may be informed by evidence of a child psychologist, provided by the complainant or the advertiser.

The application of the definition of “directed primarily to children” recognises that particular types of advertising and marketing communication engage and resonate with children in such as way as to bring about a response, reaction and action. The relevant age of the child for these purposes is 14 years old or younger. It is only these advertisements and marketing communication which are subject to the additional restrictions and protections in this Code. It is not the intent of the AANA for this Code to apply to advertising or marketing communication which is directed at adults or older children, or advertising or marketing communication that may be seen by children, but is not directed primarily to them.

The following factors are to provide guidance to the Community Panel in considering whether marketing communication is “directed primarily to children”.

  • Primarily

Marketing communication which is aimed in the first instance at children is subject to the Code. Marketing communication which is directed to parents, adults or grocery buyers is not subject to the restrictions in this Code.

  • Nature of the product or service

Marketing communication for products which are targeted toward and have principal appeal to children may be included. Products which are enjoyed more generally by adults or families are not included. Some marketing communication are for products which are of principal appeal to children, however, if the messaging and creative is not also directed primarily to children, the marketing communication do not fall under the Code. Examples are marketing communication for toys or child entertainment which can be enjoyed by children but which are directed to adults or parents to purchase the toy or entertainment.

  • Theme of the marketing communication

Marketing communication are directed primarily to children if they use children’s themes and characters. Marketing communication which appeals to an adult using imagery reminiscent of childhood may be directed to adults and not to children.

  • Child’s perspective

Stories told through children’s eyes and which may include reactions and expressions of the child characters are usually directed primarily to children. Marketing communication which tell stories from an adult perspective and include images of an adult’s reaction or expressions are unlikely to be directed primarily at children, even if children feature in the advertisement or storyline.

Examples are:

  • Marketing communication which features family settings and parents or adults more prominently than the children.
  • Marketing communication using images which are shown from the parent’s perspective, i.e. over the shoulder of the parents or adults.
  • The “storyline”

Marketing communication which uses storylines that have a simple uncomplicated plot structure, such as “good against evil”, may be directed primarily to children. If the advertisement or marketing communication contains complex plot structures or rapid transition between elements of the story, it is unlikely to be directed primarily to children. Marketing communication which includes a layer of complexity and which moves through abstract scenarios are like to be too complex for most children to comprehend and are unlikely to be directed primarily to children.

  • Visuals

Visuals which appeal to a child’s imagination and sense of play and wonderment may bring a marketing communication within the Code. Animation is an example of a visual technique that may appeal to children in this way. However, animation as a visual technique is often used in marketing communication targeting an adult audience and is not necessarily indicative of a marketing communication directed primarily to children. The animated characters used and how they are used, along with the other themes, visuals and music are relevant factors.

  • Language

Marketing communication which uses language which is appropriate and able to be comprehended by children 14 years old and younger is likely to be directed primarily to children. Marketing communication which uses language which is adult like, using adult concepts and vernacular is unlikely to capture a child’s attention or engage a child.

  • Age of actors and characters

Marketing communication which uses actors or characters 14 years old or younger may be directed primarily to children, particularly if they are using a product or service which is targeted toward and of principle appeal to children. Marketing communication which features children but does not otherwise use themes, visuals or language which is targeted at children may not be directed primarily to children.

  • Call to action

Marketing communication which speaks to children and directs a call to action to children using language and visual techniques which are understood by children are most likely directed primarily to children. If there is a clear call to action to adults, the advertisement or marketing communication may not be directed primarily to children.

2.2 FACTUAL PRESENTATION

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children:

(a) must not mislead or deceive Children;

(b) must not be ambiguous; and

(c) must accurately represent, in a manner that is clearly understood by Children:

(i) the advertised Product;

(ii) any features (including the size and performance of the product) which are described or depicted or demonstrated in the Advertising or Marketing Communication;

(iii) the need for and the price of any accessory parts; and

(iv) that the Advertising or Marketing Communication is in fact a commercial communication rather than program content, editorial comment or other non commercial communication.

(d) Price

(i) Prices, if mentioned in Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children, must be accurately presented in a way which can be clearly understood by Children and must not be minimised by words such as “only” or “just”;

(ii) Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children must not imply that the Product being promoted is immediately within the reach of every family budget.

2.3 PLACEMENT

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children must not be placed in Media where editorial comment or program content, in close proximity to that communication, or directly accessible by Children as a result of the communication, is unsuitable for Children according to Prevailing Community Standards.

2.4 SEXUALISATION

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children:

(a) must not employ sexual appeal;

(b) must not include sexual imagery; and

(c) must not state or imply that Children are sexual beings and that ownership or enjoyment of a Product will enhance their sexuality.

2.5 SAFETY

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children:

(a) must not portray images or events which depict unsafe uses of a Product or unsafe situations which may encourage Children to engage in dangerous activities or create an unrealistic impression in the minds of Children or their parents or carers about safety; and

(b) must not advertise Products which have been officially declared unsafe or dangerous by an authorised Australian government authority.

2.6 SOCIAL VALUES

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children:

(a) must not portray images or events in a way that is unduly frightening or distressing to Children; and

(b) must not demean any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, age, sexual preference, religion or mental or physical disability.

2.7 PARENTAL AUTHORITY

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children:

(a) must not undermine the authority, responsibility or judgment of parents or carers;

(b) must not contain an appeal to Children to urge their parents, carers or another person to buy a Product for them;

(c) must not state or imply that a Product makes Children who own or enjoy it superior to their peers; and

(d) must not state or imply that persons who buy the Product are more generous than those who do not.

2.8 QUALIFYING STATEMENTS

Any disclaimers, qualifiers or asterisked or footnoted information used in Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children must be conspicuously displayed and clearly explained to Children.

2.9 COMPETITIONS

An Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children which includes a competition must:

(a) contain a summary of the basic rules for the competition;

(b) clearly include the closing date for entries; and

(c) make any statements about the chance of winning clear, fair and accurate.

2.10 POPULAR PERSONALITIES

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children must not use popular personalities or celebrities (live or animated) to endorse, recommend, promote or advertise or market Products or Premiums in a manner that obscures the distinction between commercial promotions and program or editorial content.

2.10 POPULAR PERSONALITIES

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children must not use popular personalities or celebrities (live or animated) to endorse, recommend, promote or advertise or market Products or Premiums in a manner that obscures the distinction between commercial promotions and program or editorial content.

2.11 PREMIUMS

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children, which include or refer to or involve an offer of a Premium:

(a) must not create a false or misleading impression in the minds of Children about the content of the Product;

(b) must be presented conspicuously;

(c) must not create a false or misleading impression in the minds of Children that the product being advertised or marketed is the Premium rather than the Product;

(d) must not refer to the premium in more than an incidental manner to the advertised product;

(e) must make the terms of the offer clear as well as any conditions or limitations; and

(f) must not use Premiums in a way that promotes irresponsible use or excessive consumption of the Product.

2.12 ALCOHOL

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children must not be for, or relate in an way to, Alcohol Products or draw any association with companies that supply Alcohol Products.

2.13 PRIVACY

If an Advertising or Marketing Communication indicates that personal information in relation to a Child will be collected, or, if as a result of an Advertising and Marketing Communication, personal information of a Child will or is likely to be collected, then the Advertising or Marketing Communication must include a statement that the Child must obtain a parent or guardian’s express consent prior to engaging in any activity that will result in the collection or disclosure of such personal information.

Personal information is information that identifies the child or could identify the child.

2.15 AANA CODE OF ETHICS

Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children must comply with the AANA Code of Ethics.

2.14 FOOD AND BEVERAGES

(a) Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children for food or beverages must neither encourage nor promote an inactive lifestyle or unhealthy eating or drinking habits;

(b) Advertising or Marketing Communication to Children must comply with the AANA Food & Beverages Advertising & Marketing Communications Code.

This section does not form part of the AANA Children’s Advertising Code and is provided here for information only.

COMPLAINTS UNDER THE AANA SELF REGULATORY SYSTEM

Complaints about the content of an advertisement or marketing communication can be made under this Code and the other AANA Codes to Ad Standards[1].

You can make a complaint by:

Ad Standards

Level 2, 97 Northbourne Avenue

TURNER ACT 2612

Fax: (02) 6262 9833

 

Once Ad Standards has received your complaint, it then assesses the complaint to determine whether it is eligible for consideration by the Ad Standards Community Panel. The Community Panel is the body established to consider complaints. If accepted the advertiser/marketer is notified and a response is requested. The complaint is then considered by the Board and the advertiser and complainant are advised of the determination. A case report is then published.

The original complainant or advertiser/marketer can also ask for a review of the determination.

[1] If your complaint is about a program (not an advertisement) on television or radio, please contact the relevant industry body