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.