Heather Rabbatts, who was on the independent Riots Communities and Victims Panel, says the advertising industry should use the creativity seen in brand advertising to develop CSR programmes that support communities.
The recommendations are outlined by the panel in its “After the Riots” report, presented to government this week (28 March).
The report claims “aggressive and excessive” advertising targeting young people was one of the underlying reasons behind the unrest. An Ipsos Mori survey of six UK communities including areas that were and were not affected by the riots, found that 85% feel advertising puts pressure on young people to own the latest products, while 70% believe the amount of advertising aimed at young people must be cut.
The report also claims that half of the offences during the riots were “acquisitive” and targeted at brands.
Rabbatts adds: “Many young people define who they are by brands. We’re not blaming big business but alongside parents, the education and judicial system and the police, brands have a role to play in mitigating future riots through CSR schemes.”
The riot panel recommends that government appoint an “independent champion” to manage a dialogue between government and brands to make sure that children are “protected from excessive marketing”.
Under the proposals, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is urged to do more to address concerns over aggressive marketing and materialism by developing an education programme for schools that gives pupils and parents more information about marketing, advertising and branding techniques.
The report will be passed to The Department for Communities and Local Government.
A spokesman for the Advertising Association said that it was unfair that the advertising industry was singled out from the many contributing factors.
The ASA says: “We will take on board the panel’s recommendations as part of our ongoing commitment to putting the protection of children at the heart of our work. We are already undertaking a number of measures to ensure that our decisions continue to best reflect societal concerns; which includes conducting in-depth research into public views, with a particular emphasis on the views of parents and children, on what may constitute harmful advertising.”
The report investigated six core themes and made recommendations under each category:
1. Children and parents
2. Building personal resilience
3. Hopes and dreams
4. Riots and the brands
5. The usual suspects
6. Police and the public