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Advertising Association and Let Children Be Children (Bailey Review) - your thoughts

(22 Posts)
KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 19-Jul-11 18:49:42

Last month Reg Bailey published a report into the sexualisation and commercialisation of children called Let Children be Children. Much of the report covered issues we've discussed in our Let Girls Be Girls campaign, you can read the full report here.

The report included recommendations on how advertising needed to change to meet the needs of parents and children. The Advertising Association are now putting together a working group to discuss how they can respond to Bailey's specific recommendations and have asked Mumsnet to contribute, and it would be really good to hear your views; particularly on the following three topics.

1 defining the 'age' of a child in advertising regulation
Some brands and companies think a child is anyone under 12, some under 16.
Would a consistent, industry-wide 'age of child' be helpful and if so would it be 12, 16, or somewhere in between? 

2 the employment of under 16s as 'brand ambassadors' and peer-to-peer marketers
Some companies pay or reward people who talk about or recommend their brands (often online via twitter/ Facebook etc).
What do you think about children being involved in this? 

3 'sexualised' imagery in out-of-home advertising in locations where children are likely to see it
There is talk of a ban on raunchy underwear ads and the like on billboards near schools.
Do you approve or disapprove of a ban? Why?

Thanks so much

Seaholly Tue 19-Jul-11 21:45:18

Ok here are my thoughts:-

1. I think an industry-wide age of child is required. I think classing under 12's as children is too low an age. I think children do seem to grow up quicker nowadays and would suggest 14 and under is a more suitable classification.

2. I disagree with the idea of brand ambassadors, the age groups this marketing is aimed at are very susceptable to peer pressure and this shouldn't be exploited by these companies.

3. To be honest I'm not sure young children would notice it. Perhaps restrictions as opposed to a ban would be more appropriate.

Hope this helps!

mercibucket Tue 19-Jul-11 21:49:00

2. should be outright banned - hate stealth advertising at the best of times, but this is very low

3. what's the point banning it just near schools? children go most public places. not sure either way on this one. i'd like it just to go away through social pressure but I guess that's not going to happen any time soon

CMOTdibbler Wed 20-Jul-11 17:14:07

1. I think 14 is a good line in the sand

2. I really don't like this at all - it smacks of exploitation

3. I'd like stricter rules on what can be on billboards - you can't avoid them wherever they are, so don't support a school area ban. For instance, I have to drive past a huge billboard for a sex shop going to a local supermarket, and its not a discussion you want to have with small children on a regular basis.

Tee2072 Wed 20-Jul-11 21:08:41

I don't really understand why this is necessary. I get 'let girls be girls' because it's a very specific issue, having age appropriate clothing for girls to wear. I have a boy and want a 'let boys wear something other than blue and green' campaign, but that's not nearly as critical!

In any case, isn't this just more government interference into our lives? Why can't we educate our children to recognize inappropriate advertising and why can't we ourselves just not shop at places or buy brands whose adverts offend us?

Why do we need a policy?

danniclare Wed 20-Jul-11 22:03:25

1. standard age - definitely otherwise brands will use earlier ages for competitive advantage and there will be a rush to the bottom (hate that phrase). What age? No idea, what age was identified as the problem cut-off? At what age do kids start to think for ... leave that thought.

2. brand ambassadors - yeah, why not. And have young kids with established careers on kids tv, like that well known succes story, Brittney. No, it's a bad idea. The advertisers can go weep in the corner. They never had them when I was a kid ... Besides total sales volume will stay the same, an ugly truth that advertisers don't like.

3. sexualised advertising near schools, playgrounds - good in theory, but there are so many schools that this would be a lot more restrictive than it sounds. And what are we talking about here? Schools, playgrounds, sweetshops, sport facilities, shopping centres, bus stations, bus stops. What's left? Churches and other places of worship. That's pretty much everywhere except housing estates and farms. What should be banned is sexualised advertising targetted at kids.

And for crying out loud, get the financial ads off daytime kids tv NOW. What's the idea? Get 5 year olds to pressure Mum and Dad into consolidating all their loans? Creepy.

As for girls-will-girls, it's nothing new for girls to wear Mum's shoes and try make up. Dressing like older role models isn't sinister. I'm not overly worried about the odd playboy logo or toy bra. But T shirts saying "Trainer Pole Dancer" or "Slut" are incapabable on a non-sexual interpretation, and teach little ones words I certainly don't want to explain and don't want them using. Am I being unreasonable?

Tortington Thu 21-Jul-11 01:45:00

1 defining the 'age' of a child in advertising regulation
the NSPCC INFORMS ME THUS 'There is no single law that defines the age of a child across the UK. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the UK government in 1991, states that a child “means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” (Article 1, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989)' HERE

IT GOES ON TO SAY 'England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland each have their own guidance setting out the duties and responsibilities of organisations to keep children safe, but they agree that a child is anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday.' 16 is the absolute minimum imo

2 the employment of under 16s as 'brand ambassadors' and peer-to-peer marketers
no here direct gov tells me that it is illegal to employ under 13's.

3 'sexualised' imagery in out-of-home advertising in locations where children are likely to see it
There is talk of a ban on raunchy underwear ads and the like on billboards near schools.
either ban it or don't ban it - but don't piss about, it smacks of panic banning for the sake of lip service bollocks and conjures up the imagery of pius hat wearing christians int he deep south of america book burning becuase they don't understand the real meaning - i take it that this advertizing panel do know the real meaning behind the campaign?

Tee2072 Thu 21-Jul-11 07:24:01

Actually, Custy, what that says is that under 13s can work with the permission of their local authority in sport or entertainment work. And I assume this would be classed as entertainment.

Although I do think this whole campaign is stupid.

PrettyCandles Thu 21-Jul-11 11:07:57

Point 1) Specifying a particular age to define a child does not make sense. Child mature at different ages, and at different rates. They don't go to bed one night as a naive, innocent child and wake up the following morning capable of understanding and discriminating. If a specific age has to be set, then it should not be lower than the age of consent, because if a lower age is set it is like saying "You're old enough to be sexualised, but not old enough to be sexual" ie that sexualisation is acceptable for children. Which is exactly the opposite of the point of this whole exercise!

Point 2) Categorically not! It's difficult enough for young people to learn to make their own choices in the face of peer pressure. No need to add more pressure for them to make uninformed choices.

Point 3) A ban would be pointless. Advertiding is everywhere. Far more appropriate would be a ban on advertising anything youth-related in a sexualised manner.

Tortington Thu 21-Jul-11 12:29:43

YES QUITE RIGHT Tee, i didn't immediatley see it as entertainment, but you are correct - or course it would come under entertainment - marketing on the interweb - is entertainment non? i am being entertained? am i? i suppose its advertising - like an actor, only i know when i am being advertised to - i think, shouldn't we know when we are being advertised to? a whole other kettle of fish in this stream of <un> consciousness

Point 1) You need a sliding scale - what might be appropriate for 9 year olds would not be appropriate for 6 year olds, and while 14 year olds are still really children they don't need to be treated the same as toddlers.

Point 2) No, this is dishonest stealth marketing crap and very unfair - TBH it should be banned outright.

Point 3) No, there is no need for a ban on underwear advertising. Remember that sex is not, actually, horrible. There are plenty adverts for things that children might find more upsetting than a picture of an arse in knickers (such as those creepy Dob In A Benefit Cheat posters, stuff about dying of cancer, all the charity ads that show graphic suffering).

Tortington Thu 21-Jul-11 12:41:19

what sgb said - as always puts it more succinctly and eloquently than i do

ouryve Thu 21-Jul-11 22:59:01

1 defining the 'age' of a child in advertising regulation
Some brands and companies think a child is anyone under 12, some under 16.
Would a consistent, industry-wide 'age of child' be helpful and if so would it be 12, 16, or somewhere in between?

ME: Yes, a standard age is a must and I think it should be 16. There's always those who are younger who are allowed to slip through the cracks by parents and some unscrupulous advertisers, even with a firm guiding hand are bound to try to push the realms of acceptable for child viewing.

2 the employment of under 16s as 'brand ambassadors' and peer-to-peer marketers
Some companies pay or reward people who talk about or recommend their brands (often online via twitter/ Facebook etc).
What do you think about children being involved in this?

ME: This is fair enough, but it needs to be done via the parent. With the parent involved, it's no different to MN product tests, really, but when kids are drawn in directly, it denies the opportunity for a real talk with an adult about what the brand might be trying to achieve, particularly if the brand involve has a poor ethical record or the product being pushed is unhealthy or outrageously expensive.

3 'sexualised' imagery in out-of-home advertising in locations where children are likely to see it
There is talk of a ban on raunchy underwear ads and the like on billboards near schools.
Do you approve or disapprove of a ban? Why?

ME: I'd prefer there to be no sexualised imagery on billboards in any public place. Areas close to schools are particular sensitive, but I'd like us to be able to drive our kids anywhere without them being subjected to something I really don't want them to see until they're old enough and mature enough to understand - that might not be until they're technically adults for my kids, who both have ASD. (And to be honest, while I'm less uptight about what I see as a consenting adult, in private, I'd like to be able to chose where and when, rather than having it thrust in my face when I'm simply off to the shops.)

KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 01-Aug-11 15:00:30

Just popping up again to say hi - and thanks for the comments so far. The first meeting is this Thursday, so if anyone else would like to add comments, it would be great to have them in time for the meeting.

K x

Insomnia11 Mon 01-Aug-11 17:13:45

I feel advertising or its effect on my children isn't really a major consideration in my life. Mumsnet would be better off campaigning for a better state education system, or against the heartless cuts in services affecting families across the country than these piecemeal Daily Mail esque flouncy 'campaigns'.

edam Mon 01-Aug-11 20:42:47

1. Yes, and it should be 16. Anything else just allows companies wriggle room to continue marketing inappropriately sexualised material to people who are under the age of consent.

2. I think employing under 16s as brand ambassadors is wrong. Children don't have the life experience to know when they are being exploited. Of course brands want to build relationships with children - get 'em hooked and that's a life-long customer. But these are, legally, morally and practically, children who deserve some protection from insidious commercial exploitation. When they talk to their mates, they should be talking about stuff they really like or dislike, not something they've been paid to push.

3. Approve. I don't think it's good for children or society in general if they become familiar with the brand image and values of lap dancing clubs, or are given the impression women exist to pout and tease. (Not good for girls or boys.)

violetwellies Tue 02-Aug-11 12:00:12

1 A child is under 18, that is the definition used when LA's are trying to get out of their financial responsibility for homeless teenagers. But as 16 is the age of consent Ill settle for that.

2 The exlploitation of peer pressure deliberately insidious, nasty nasty nasty. Perhaps schools should remind pupils that some of their mates are being Paid to presurise them into spending on certain items.

3 total ban on sexualised imagery, kids go to more places than school.

violetwellies Tue 02-Aug-11 12:33:10

1 A child is under 18, that is the definition used when LA's are trying to get out of their financial responsibility for homeless teenagers. But as 16 is the age of consent Ill settle for that.

2 The exlploitation of peer pressure deliberately insidious, nasty nasty nasty. Perhaps schools should remind pupils that some of their mates are being Paid to presurise them into spending on certain items.

3 total ban on sexualised imagery, kids go to more places than school.

violetwellies Tue 02-Aug-11 12:35:48

Oh bum didn't mean to post twice.

SuchProspects Wed 03-Aug-11 10:26:26

1) I agree with the previous comments about different ages being appropriate for different parts of the regulations. I find the idea that you can lump all children together on something that is so broad and dependent on development to be absurd. It either leaves the very young unprotected or infantalises older kids and then throws them in the deep end exposing them to everything all at once. But there is an awful lot of stuff that isn't suitable for a 12 year old so I don't think companies should be able to assume that.

2) If this is stealth advertising they are talking about then No. Absolutely not. Children should not be asked to take part in something so disingenuous and they should not be targeted by it. It is deceitful, even if only by omission. But if it is a role where the kids are upfront about the fact they are being paid, and that this is a job, not their unvarnished thoughts, I'm more ambivalent. It becomes more of a sales job and I'm quite pro kids having jobs that teach them useful skills (like sales).

3). I don't really see the point of a ban near school. It's such lip service it's quite insulting. It's the cultural acceptance of sexing everything up and particularly using women as sex objects in advertising that is harmful to our kids. The casual acceptance of sexual messages saturating the public space is not changed by removing them from areas around schools. Billboards shouldn't be able to display these sorts of images anywhere unless it can be shown to be particularly appropriate and necessary.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Aug-11 10:32:31

Thanks all. Much appreciated.

KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Aug-11 10:33:06

Thanks all for your comments, great to be be able to take them along tomorrow.

K x

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