French Regulator Drafts Tougher Rules on Advertising to Kids

18 March 2002

The French ad industry's leading self-regulatory body, the Bureau de Vérification de la Publicité (Truth in Advertising), has published its latest, more stringent, recommendations for ads that feature or target children.

The BVP, whose seal of approval is required for all TV advertising, is demanding that advertisers and agencies pay greater attention to the protection of children – especially in the realm of interactive advertising directed at the sale of goods and services to kids without parental consent.

The latter sales technique, urges the BVP, should be clearly identified and always advocate parental participation.

The relative laxity of the prevailing standards, and the alleged disregard with which they treated by the French ad industry, has provoked a number of government officials to add their voices to increasing calls across the EU for pan-European legislation on advertising to children.

The BVP’s latest code of practice bolsters the extant norms on decency and human dignity, extending these to include “any representation of children likely to offend, shock or provoke negative reactions among television audiences”.

Agencies and clients must also refrain from depicting children in situations that could disturb under-age viewers. Ads targeting or starring children include must also eschew acts depicting violence or serious safety concerns.

Advertising must be clearly distinguishable from other programming and should not present anti-social or illegal activity in a favorable light. Nor should ads devalue or diminish parental authority or that of other figures, such as teachers.

The BVP also vetoes sales promotions that encourage children to make appointments or participate in events that involve contact with strangers, either online of face-to-face.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff