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The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) commissions research to assess community perceptions to ensure that decisions on complaints received about advertisements are in line with current community values in relation to advertising. Their most recent research was to gauge community perceptions especially in relation to advertising of food to children, because they have identified interest in this issue from media and community groups.

Respondents were shown five television advertisements and a website that had been complained about recently and asked if it was acceptable to show the advertisement, and also what audience they thought it was being primarily directed to. The wording of this question most likely is based on the voluntary advertising codes that use that terminology. One of the criteria considered when accessing advertisements according to the advertising to children codes is whether they are primarily directed to children.

Seventy percent of respondents thought the ads were acceptable any time of the day but 14%-18% (depending on the ad) said that they were acceptable outside pre-school/children’s programming times.

The top five reasons people said an ad was directed primarily to children were:

• The product advertised had appeal to children,
• The ad had visuals such as animation/cartoons that would appeal to children,
• The ad used actors under 14 years of age,
• There were design elements such as music or colours that would appeal to children,
• The ad had childish themes or themes easily understood by children.

The report said:

Participants widely supported the need for rules regulating what products are advertised during times when children could be watching television, as well as how these products could be advertised.

There was some concern that advertising products deemed as unhealthy foods would increase pressure on parents, with children nagging their parents to buy these products.

Research Report: Community perceptions of advertising directed primarily to children, produced for the Advertising Standards Bureau by Colmar Brunton Social Research December 2015

Busted

The Advertising Standards Board have upheld a complaint about an ad for party pies that was shown on TV during the movie Frozen. The ad featured a boy dressed as an astronaut enjoying party pies with his family.

Patties argued that the ad was targeted at grocery buyers with 5-17 year old children and that party pies are a food that brings three generations of a family together. “The adults are enjoying themselves and clearly looking forward to having a Patties Party Pie as much as Daniel”, the company said. Defending the lack of physical activity in the ad, Patties said that Daniel had been “playing in his bedroom”.

The Board ruled that the ad wasn’t directed to children because the inclusion of a child in an advertisement does not make the advertisement attractive to children, the astronauts costume was homemade and not linked to a specific program or licensed character and the space related theme was not directed primarily to children.

However, the board found that despite a children’s audience of only 17% of the total audience, the Frozen movie was directed primarily to children and so the ad appeared in media directed primarily to children. As party pies are not a healthy dietary choice, the Board found the ad breached the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative. In their response, Patties said they would work further with their media buyer. Under the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative Patties have said that none of their media is, or will be, directly targeted at children under the age of 12.

Advertising Standards Board Case report 0511/15