Industry responds to kids marketing furore

The PR industry is drawing up guidelines on the thorny issue of promoting junk food and computer games to under-16s.

The CIPR finally agreed to draw up guidelines this week as the Government grabbed headlines for its Children’s Plan. The plan, unveiled on Tuesday, exp­resses concern over ‘the impact of the commercial world on children’s wellbeing’.

The CIPR previously told PRWeek it had no plans to introduce specific guidelines for targeting under-16s after the issue was raised by MPs on the House of Commons’ culture, media and sport sel­ect committee (PRWeek, 10 August). But CIPR director general Colin Farrington conceded this week: ‘We need to take a fresh look at this.’

The guidelines are not expected until the spring but have already met with opposition. Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster chairman Graham Lancaster exp­ressed concern that any guidelines could limit the industry’s creativity. Lancaster, whose clients include Diageo and Asda, said: ‘The PR industry has to be creative in the way it works. You don’t want an industry that is risk-averse.'

Lancaster added that the PR industry has checks and balances in place, as it is dep­endent on third parties such as the press, as well as having to adhere to existing guidelines from other bodies.

Speaking in the Commons this week, children’s secretary Ed Balls said the Government would ‘investigate how the huge increase in commercial activity, advertising and marketing, aimed specifically at young people, is affecting their wellbeing’.

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