Although perhaps surprised that a man named Reg Bailey should be Chief Executive of the Mothers’ Union, advertisers must nevertheless take seriously his report for the Government – “Let Children be Children” – published in June 2011. Its findings have prompted a nappy rash of new policies and proposals.
In direct response to one of Reg’s recommendations, the ASA has announced a new approach to sexual imagery in outdoor advertising 1. Ads that are “no more than mildly sexual” (e.g. a topless male model) can still go out to play. Images that are “sexually suggestive” (e.g. women in sexy lingerie and/or a mildly seductive pose) are likely to require placement restrictions away from schools. And posters bearing “overtly sexual images” (e.g. steamy clinches and passionate facial expressions) are now completely grounded.
The ASA is also collaborating with other media regulators such as Ofcom, ATVOD, the BBC Trust, the BBFC, PPC and VSC/PEGI to produce a new website called ParentPort. This aims to cut through the acronym alphabettispaghetti, giving parents a more palatable route for complaints about inappropriate ads, programmes, products or services.
Not to be left out of the gang, the Advertising Association came forward with its own set of Best Practice Principles 2. Based on another of Uncle Reg’s recommendations, this voluntary initiative asks brand-owners to pledge not to offer sweeties (or other rewards) that encourage children to promote goods or services via their social relationships.
Uh oh, Lola!
Demonstrating its determination in this area, the ASA in November gave a stern telling-off to Coty about a magazine ad for “Oh, Lola!” perfume. This featured actress Dakota Fanning (aged 17) in a thighlength dress and holding an oversized bottle of the perfume in a “provocative” manner. The ASA concluded that Dakota looked under 16 and so the ad could be seen to sexualise a child.
1 See the “ASA statement on sexual imagery in outdoor advertising” published 11 October 2011.
2 See the AA’s “Best Practice Principles on the Use of Under-16s in Brand Ambassador and Peer-to-Peer Marketing” published 10 October 2011.