Protecting children from sexual imagery in posters: New research
2 March 2012
The advertising industry’s think tank, Credos has published the findings of its research into ‘Public Attitudes Towards Outdoor Advertising’, which seems to indicate that the public thinks the ASA is drawing the right line on sexual imagery in outdoor advertising.
Last autumn the ASA issued a statement to the advertising industry outlining the firmer line we are taking when considering complaints about ‘sexualised imagery’ in outdoor advertising where children are likely to see it. High profile ASA rulings since the statement was issued have clearly demonstrated the tightening of our position in this area.
As well as taking action against ads that go too far, the ASA has commissioned its own far-reaching public research intended to uncover UK-wide attitudes to harm and offence in UK advertising. The findings from that research will help ensure we keep in tune with public opinion.
The Credos research appears to indicate that those ads banned by the ASA, compared to those we did not, were deemed the most offensive by the respondents. Ads that we considered to be suitable outdoors were described as ‘inoffensive’ by well over 90% of the adults questioned.
Although Credos’ report concludes that the British public is not generally offended by outdoor advertising, especially that for underwear or swimwear, we will need to await the outcome of our own research before drawing any particular conclusions.
Following last year’s Bailey Review into the sexualisation and commercialisation of children the ASA has already taken several measures to ensure we continue to put the protection of children at the heart of our work. As well as tighten our position on sexual imagery in posters and commission research we are listening to the views of parents and children:
• We held a public debate in Manchester on sexual imagery in advertising.
• Along with seven other media regulators, we launched ParentPort (www.parentport.org.uk), a new website to help parents make their views heard on issues relating to inappropriate programmes, adverts, products and services.
• Started working on a new Schools Engagement Programme to increase knowledge about advertising regulation issues amongst young people, and through them, their parents. This will be launched for June for the September 2012 school year. This is a long-term commitment from the ASA.
We continue to take seriously any concerns we receive about ads that are potentially inappropriate or harmful for children to see. With the steps we have taken so far and the work we are currently undertaking to engage with parents and young people we are committed to ensuring that while advertising remains innovative, fun and creative, it also remains child friendly.
Key ASA rulings
Unilever UK Ltd
Marks and Spencer plc
To Read Credos' research visit the Outdoor Media Centre's website