Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

For the purposes of the Code, a child is someone under 16. If advertising a promotion aimed at children, then section 5 and section 8 will be likely to apply. Section 5 of the CAP Code contains the rules regarding advertising targeted at, and featuring, children. While Section 8 contains rules for promotional marketing.

Marketers should ensure that promotional items are suitable for the audience addressed but marcoms featuring promotions to children have to be handled especially carefully and with a due sense of responsibility;

  • Promoters should take care not to exploit children’s susceptibility to charitable appeals and should explain the extent to which their participation will help in any charity-linked promotion (Rule 5.3.2).
  • HFSS product advertisements that are targeted through their content directly at pre-school or primary school children (under-12s) must not include a promotional offer (Rule 15.14).
  • Promotions to children should not include alcohol gambling or any other product that is unsuitable for a child or that has an age restriction that excludes children (Rules 8.4, 8.5 and 8.8).

Promotions addressed to or targeted directly at children must make clear that adult permission is required if a prize or an incentive might cause conflict. Examples include animals, bicycles, tickets for outings, concerts and holidays.

Previously, we used to advise that adult permission might be needed if a cost is necessary to enter (for example, premium-rate lines) or if a cost is associated with the prize. However, in light of the CPRs and amendments to the Code, promoters should ensure that they do not to invite children to enter at cost because that could constitute making a direct exhortation to buy something (Rule 5.7);

Promotional material must contain a prominent closing date (Unless the promotional pack includes the promotional item or prize and the only limit is the availability of that pack, rule 8.17.4.b)

Rule 5.4.2 states “Marketing communications addressed to or targeted directly at children must not include a direct exhortation to children to buy an advertised product or persuade their parents or other adults to buy an advertised product for them.” Therefore, marketers should not encourage children to buy the advertised product. The Code also prohibits promotions that require a purchase to participate and include a direct exhortation to purchase being addressed to or targeted at children (Rule 5.7).

See ‘Promotional marketing: General’, 'Promotional marketing: Terms and conditions', 'Children: Food'  and 'Children: Credulity'.

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