We have published a new report that shows that, in recent years, children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol, gambling and food and soft drink products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS products) is declining.
Data from 2017, the latest year covered by the report, shows that children, on average, see 161.2 TV ads per week, of which:
- One is for an alcohol product;
- 2.8 are for gambling products; and
- 9.6 are for HFSS products*
*HFSS ads: includes products such as confectionary items and soft drinks which may be popular with children but also products such as olive oil, butter and cheese which may have minimal appeal.
As an average, it is acknowledged that some children see more ads per week, and some see fewer.
Children’s exposure to all TV ads peaked in 2013 (229.3 ads per week) and declined, year-on-year, to 161.2 ads per week in 2017; a reduction of 29.7%. Over the same period, children’s exposure to:
- TV ads for alcohol decreased by 62.5%;
- TV ads for gambling decreased by 37.3%;
- TV ads for food and soft drink decreased by 45.5%
For reasons set out in the report, data on HFSS product ads is limited to 2016 and 2017, only. Between these years, children’s exposure to all TV ads reduced by 15.6%, whereas children’s exposure to TV ads for HFSS products reduced by 22.9%.
As the TV scheduling rules have not changed over the years covered by the report, other factors e.g. changes in marketing spend and behaviour, are likely to account for the decline in children’s exposure to these ads. The rules continue to help limit children’s exposure, however, to the extent that they ban these ads in significant parts of the broadcast schedule e.g. in or adjacent to programmes of particular appeal to children.
By setting out the actual level of children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol, gambling and HFSS products, we seek to better inform the debate about the effectiveness and the proportionality of the rules that currently restrict their scheduling and content.
A further breakdown of each product category reveals:
- Children saw, on average, about one TV ad for alcohol for every four or five seen by adults in 2017
- Alcohol ads made up just 0.6% of all TV ads children saw in 2017; that equates to around 22.1 seconds per week
- Alcohol ads made up less than 1.5% of all TV ads seen by children annually over the decade
- Children saw, on average, about one TV ad for gambling for every five seen by adults in 2017
- Gambling ads made up less than 2% of all the TV ads that children saw on average every year between 2008 and 2017; that equates to approximately 65.2 seconds per week last year
- The majority of TV ads for gambling that children have seen since 2011** are ads for bingo, lottery and scratchcards
- Children’s exposure to ads for sports-betting has decreased from an average of one ad per week in 2011 to 0.4 ads per week in 2017
- Children saw, on average, in 2017, about one TV ad for HFSS products for every four seen by adults
- HFSS ads constituted, on average, 6% of all ads children saw each week in 2017, compared to 7% in 2016
- The average child in 2017 saw 9.6 HFSS TV ads per week
- That equates to around 213 seconds per week
**2011 is the first year when we can be confident about product breakdown information for gambling ads
***The data on HFSS product ads presented in the report is limited to 2016 and 2017 because of inherent time and cost restraints associated with gathering data from previous years
We intend to publish an exposure report annually, including information on children’s exposure to age-restricted ads in online media, which it is currently in the course of gathering.
Advertising Standards Authority Chief Executive, Guy Parker said:
“Protecting children has always been at the heart of our regulation. These findings show that in recent years, children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol, gambling and food and soft drink products high in fat, salt or sugar is declining. We’re not complacent though and we’ll continue to actively monitor and report on this important area of work. Our next focus will be to examine whether the rules are working in the same way online and we’ll report on that later in 2019.”
The full report is available now.
- Food, drink and supplements
- Children and the vulnerable
- TV and radio (broadcast only)