UNICEF UK calls on the Government to ban advertising during children's programmes


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On 14 September, UNICEF UK called on the UK Government to follow Sweden's example and ban advertisements being shown before, during or after programmes aimed at under-12s.

This request comes following the release of a UNICEF UK report entitled: “Children's Well-being in UK, Sweden and Spain: The Role of Inequality and Materialism” which found that materialism was problematic for UK adults as well as children, unlike their Swedish and Spanish counterparts.

Four years after the conclusion of the UNICEF's Report Card 7 where the UK came at the bottom of the child well-being league table (compared with 20 other OECD countries), UNICEF UK commissioned market research company Ipsos Mori and Dr Agnes Nairn to conduct a qualitative analysis comparing 250 children's activities and priorities in the three countries.

Whilst the focus of the research was not on the role of advertising, parents spontaneously mentioned it as a source of commercial pressure. British parents also admitted struggling to keep consumer influences away from their children.
The authors noted that this level of overconsumption or “compulsive consumption” was much less in evidence in Sweden and Spain, regardless of the affluence of the families involved.

As a result, UNICEF UK's executive director David Bull asks the Government to: “show strong leadership by taking decisive action to help families fight back against the materialism and inequality that is so pervasive in the UK”.

Commenting on the report, Children and Families Minister Sarah Teather said: "We share UNICEF's concerns about the rise of consumerism among children, and it's worrying to see that in some cases parents are under the same pressures. We are clear this needs to be tackled and are currently working with businesses and regulators to implement the recommendations from Reg Bailey's review on commercialisation and sexualisation of children." (See AEF Alert 06/06/11)

Source: The Advertising Education Forum

This has led to some trade press coverage (i.e. here) and general press interest, including last night on BBC. As a solution to the apparent unhappiness suffered by UK children, one interviewee explicitly called for a ban on advertising to under 12s.

The industry response:
(Courtesy of the UK independently governed advertising think tank, Credos- also blog here)

Credos research for the government-commissioned Bailey Review on the commercialisation of childhood earlier this year shows that:
• Parents are not calling for a ban on advertising to children, because they recognise that commercialisation is part of the world in which their children live, and that a world without advertising would not adequately prepare their children for adulthood.
• 59% of parents believe that the current amount of regulation of advertising to children is 'about right'.
• The materialistic appeal to children of 'Having Lots of Money' is relatively low and declining, now lower than in the late 1990s.

For more information please contact Will Gilroy w.gilroy@wfanet.org

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