Children’s Society blasts ‘exploitative’ advertising

The Children’s Society has published a scathing attack on brands and commercialisation, calling for a ban on “ruthless and exploitative” advertising directed at youngsters.

The report, out this week, says a public opinion poll published as part of its ongoing Good Childhood Inquiry shows adults agree increasing commercialisation is damaging children’s wellbeing.

It has also published a summary of the evidence submitted to the inquiry on the theme of children’s lifestyles, which says/ “Advertising to children was ruthless and exploitative and that they should not be viewed as small consumers, particularly for younger children with ‘impressionable minds’.”

Inquiry patron Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, waded into the debate by criticising brands for “selling lifestyles” to children, which “creates a culture of material competitiveness”.

The poll, conducted by GfK NOP, highlighted adults’ concern about various areas of children’s lifestyles, with 61% saying that the Government should ban the advertising of unhealthy food and seven in ten (69%) agreeing that violent video games make children more aggressive.

However, Peta Buscombe, chief executive of trade body the Advertising Association has warned that calls for ad bans are “ill considered”. She further points to the role advertising has in safeguarding and funding children’s TV. Mark Fawcett, chief executive of the National Schools Partnership, further warns against knee-jerk reactions, saying society must do more to understand the role of marketing as a tool rather than inherently “good” or “bad”.

Over the next 12 months the inquiry will hold meetings on the remaining themes of health and values before publishing its final report in early 2009.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here