Banning Ads And The Fear Or Unintended Consequences? Sweden, since 1991 has banned all advertising during children’s prime time due to those concerns mentioned above regarding advertising to children being harmful. The European Union is now considering issues related to advertising targeted at children and whether there should be a Europe-wide ban or regulation. Since April 2007, the UK has banned junk food advertising during television programs aimed at children aged 7 to 9.
As of January 1 , 2008, that ban has been extended to all children under 16. Some argue that this industry provides jobs for people so banning advertising would be ill- advised. Others question the effectiveness Of outright bans in advertising. For example, a ban would mean lost revenues of media outlets, as many pour a large amount of advertising revenues back into programming. The Responsible Advertising and Children Programmer (RACE) is an industry organization representing advertisers, agencies and media worldwide.
They argue that education and self-regulation is the way to go (as most companies n most sectors tend to argue), and also warn of job losses if there are outright bans: We believe that educating children to understand the purpose and context of marketing communications helps them to develop the skills to critically interpret commercial communications in the context of their daily lives. This is crucial in preparing them for interaction with the reality of a media-filled world. Advertising finances children’s programming on free-to- air television…. 4% of the net revenues coming from advertising aimed at children are reinvested in children’s programmed. In the digital economy, there is no alternative method to ensure investment in original children’s programming and in the acquisition of programmer rights. Not only does marketing communications help to guarantee quality children’s programming, it also aids competition in the wider economy, creates jobs and enhances consumer’s choices of goods and services. In return, advertisers are active and enthusiastic us porters of strong self-regulation ensuring that we meet the expectations of parents, regulators, and society at large.
Education ND self-regulation deliver effective and responsible marketing communications. ? Advertising and Children, The Responsible Advertising and Children Programmer, 18th March 2007 With less programming for children, they may end up watching more adult content, as Juliet Scorch notes, also writing in the Nordic publication mentioned earlier. However, she seems to disagree with the view above, that “there is no alternative” to advertising for financing children’s programming: Bans also raise the possibility Of negative unintended consequences.
For example, if a ban on advertising to children were to be enacted, it would reduce the financing available for children’s programming. If the quantity and quality of their programming declined, children would be likely to watch more adult media. This, in turn, would expose them to other types of inappropriate advertising and content. At the very least, government urge lotions on advertising need to be coupled with adequate financing mechanisms for quality children’s programming. ? Juliet Scorch, Regulation, Awareness, Empowerment.
Young people and Harmful Media Content in the Digital Age, Nordic, June 2006 (p. 1 3) Scorch also notes that one exception to the above concerns would be in schools, where the additional concerns with bans (legal, logistical, pragmatic) are not as difficult in a controlled environment such as school. In addition, a study for the European Commission finds that, restrictive national regulatory measures do not necessarily have a direct negative impact on advertising investment for children’s products.
This being the case, the different situations that exist in the European Union countries do not appear to favor the adoption of uniform regulatory measures via a Directive. National provisions or self-regulatory measure codes appear to be more adequate. ? The impact of control mess rues on television advertising?comparative international study, A Study for the European Commission, July 2005 A paper in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, notes that media education has been shown to be effective in mitigating some of the negative effects of advertising on children and adolescents.
Scorch also makes the interesting point that while education may be important (also one of the hinge suggested above by the RACE), it doesn’t always work when needed: Industry practitioners point to [a study showing children] mistrust [advertising] as proof that children cannot be influenced. But the available research finds that the presence of skepticism does not affect desire for the advertised product, even for nine and ten year olds. Despite expressing doubts about ads, kids remain vulnerable to their persuasive powers.
Furthermore, although media literacy has been encouraged as a solution to some of the problems raised by children’s inability to watch ads critically, at east some research finds that it does not affect children while they are actually watching ads. In one study of nine and ten year olds, exposure to a media literacy film did not subsequently affect their thoughts while they viewed advertisements, because they did not retrieve the consumer knowledge they learned from the film. ? Juliet Scorch, Regulation, Awareness, Empowerment. Young People and Harmful Media Content in the Digital Age, Nordic, June 2006 (p. 107) In food advertising, for example, Scorch notes that “Decades of studies show that food marketing to children is effective” p. 108. See also Pediatric Studies Link TV Advertising with ‘Global Butterfingered the W. P. Carrey School of Business, University Of Arizona, March 29, 2006).
In addition, “food advertising is contributing to major changes in eating habits,” leading to concerns of obesity epidemics in the US and elsewhere. “Over the long term, food marketing is likely to prove to be the most harmful commercial influence on children, because it will affect so much a large fraction of children, with such serious consequences for their health and well-being. ”