Advertising to children

Codes and Initiatives

There are a number of Codes and Initiatives administered by Ad Standards which incorporate standards relating to advertising to children. These are:

Directed primarily to children

Under the definitions of the Children's Code, whether an advertisement is directed to children is an objective test based on a number of factors. In considering whether an advertising or marketing communication is directed primarily to children the Community Panel will consider a number of factors, such as:

  • Who the ad is primarily directed to – ads must be in the first instance directed at children, not parents, adults or the grocery buyer.
  • The nature of the product or service – the product or service being advertised must be of principal appeal to children, not enjoyed more generally by adults and/or families.
  • The themes in the ad – if children’s characters and themes are used.
  • Whether the ad is told from a child’s perspective – stories told through children’s eyes which may include reactions and expressions of the child characters.
  • The storyline of the ad – ads which use storylines that have simple, uncomplicated plot structures such as ‘good vs evil’.
  • The visuals in the ad – where visuals appeal to a child’s imagination and sense of play and wonderment.
  • The language used – where language is appropriate and able to be understood by children.
  • The age of actors and characters – ads which use actors or characters 14 years old or younger.
  • What the call to action is – ads which speak directly to children and directs a call to action to children using language and visual techniques which are understood by children.

Ad Standards commissioned research into advertising to children and published a comprehensive research report on the matter in 2015.

For more information on whether an advertisement is directed primarily to children read the AANA Code of Advertising and Marketing to Children Practice Note.