The Prime Minister, who has previously slammed “irresponsible” marketing”, has given his support to recommendations in a report that calls for an end to peer to marketing and for the Advertising Standards Authority to discourage the placement of risqué images on billboards near schools.
The report from Mother’s Union chief Reg Bailey was commissioned by the Department for Education last year in response to concern from ministers that children are being sexualised.
Bailey has also called for a ban on sexy images being shown on TV before the watershed, moving lads’ magazines to the shop shelf, and making it easier for parents to block online material meant for adults. Sexy music videos should carry a 15 or 18 certificate, Bailey says.
There is also a demand that retailers stop selling inappropriate clothing – such as underwire bras or t-shirts with suggestive slogans – that sexualise children.
The BRC has issued guidelines to its members.
It is also recommended that a single portal be setup for parents to complain about ads, products and services.
The report gives the industry 18 months to demonstrate to Government that they are taking action, after which ministers “may at that point feel the need to bring in further regulation to complete the task”.
The Prime Minister, however, believes that companies demonstrating social responsibility and not tough new laws will deliver change.
In a letter to Bailey he says: “I note that many of the actions you suggest are for business and regulators to follow rather than for government. I support this emphasis, as it consistent with this government’s overall approach and my long-held belief that the leading force for progress should be social responsibility, not state control.”
Cameron plans to hold meetings of advertisers, magazine executives, broadcasters and internet companies to discuss progress on a regular basis.
The Advertising Association, welcomed the report.
“As children learn to understand the commercial world, they need to be treated with care. The review has found much to applaud within advertising but we face new challenges and must work across industry to find the solutions.”
The AA has set up a panel of advertisers, media owners and academics to ensure that rules aimed at protecting children from irresponsible ads and marketing techniques are robust.