New guidance for brands using child ambassadors

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is to introduce new guidance for marketers on the use of children as brand ambassadors and in peer-to-peer marketing, following a year long review.

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The regulatory body says the new guidance will prevent irresponsible practices and address the reasonable concerns expressed by parents during the Bailey Review.

It will also make clear that brand ambassador or peer-to-peer marketing activity falling within the scope of the UK Code of non-broadcast advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing (the CAP Code) continues to be subject to it.

The report will draw on existing CAP Code rules with updated industry best practice and be published in the first quarter of 2013. The CAP Code is administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Guidance includes:

  • Be obviously identifiable as marketing activity; and will give examples on how that can be achieved 
  • Do nothing that is likely to result in the physical, mental or moral harm of children 
  • Not make children feel inferior or unpopular if they do not have a product or do not engage in peer-to-peer marketing and confirm that all rules in CAP’s dedicated children’s section apply
  • Be prepared with a sense of social responsibility

Brand marketers are also advised to seek parental consent before engaging a child in the role of a brand ambassador.

Marketers can also seek pre-publication advice on their communications by contacting the CAP Copy Advice team.

During its review CAP found that existing use of under-16s as brand ambassadors is limited and that marketing that offers a reward or incentive for children engaging with activity was more prevalent.

Mother’s Union head Reg Bailey called for a ban on peer to peer marketing and the use of child ambassadors in his 2011 report on the sexualisation of children in advertising.

A number of brands including Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Nintendo, have already signed a pledge not to use peer to peer marketing or child brand ambassadors in their campaigns.

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