Watchdog Finds 99% Observance of UK Child Marketing Code

20 October 2003

Some 99% of British non-broadcast ads aimed at children abide by industry guidelines, according to a new study.

The Advertising Standards Authority investigated 882 on-pack sales promotions and press, outdoor, online and cinema ads in July. Just 1% of these broke the CAP Code – the regulations drawn up and enforced by the Committee of Advertising Practice, a self-regulatory body that ensures ads are "legal, decent, honest and truthful."

The ASA is keen to gauge compliance rates among marketers using media chiefly directed at children. It is particularly interested in food firms, given the current debate about advertising's link to youth obesity. Of the 882 ads, 134 were for food products, and just one of these broke the code – a Burger King press ad that failed to display complete terms and conditions.

A mere 1% of total press ads (excluding duplicates) breached the guidelines, though nine – all featured in a computer gaming magazine – were deemed 'questionable'. Seven of these were considered unsuitable in a title, 53% of whose readership was under 15; the other two were thought to encourage violence or anti-social activities.

Around 1% of online ads broke the code, but no sales promotions, cinema spots or outdoor posters were at fault.

Food companies were the leading marketers in the press category, where they accounted for 10.7% of all child-targeted ads. They were also responsible for 97% of the sales promotions in the survey.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff