Compendium of ICC Rules on Children and Young People and Marketing
Commission on Marketing and Advertising, April 2003
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the global business organization representing all sectors of business. ICC has acquired its leading role in self-regulation in the multiple disciplines of marketing through the participation of a cross-section of business involved as producers or buyers in the marketing process.
ICC's rules in the marketing field makes it quite clear that all marketing messages conveyed must be decent, honest and truthful. These elements of responsibility have a special importance in the context of advertising to children and young people. For that reason ICC has made specific provisions for marketing towards children and young people.
ICC is strongly committed to efforts both to understand the effects of marketing on children and young people and to encourage clear self-regulatory measures in this area. To assist our members to develop self-regulatory efforts at the national level, we have decided to publish this compendium of relevant guidelines contained in existing ICC Codes.
In doing this we also affirm our belief in the following:
The specific circumstances in advertising to children and young people are addressed in a number of articles in different ICC Codes and Guidelines. In order to illustrate the full extent of ICC's considerations in these matters, this Compendium is a compilation of the various existing rules contained in the individual Codes.
As each of the articles quoted in the Compendium is part of an ICC Code, they should be interpreted within the context in which they appear in that Code.
ICC has a continuous schedule for the revision and updating of its Codes in order to accommodate developments in technologies and societal expectations. The experience gathered from self-regulating bodies set up nationally to handle consumer complaints provides an important input in the revision process. ICC welcomes comments from all stakeholders in marketing issues.
The articles in this compendium are to be found in the following Codes and Guidelines:
Not being a commercial communication, information gathering by means of marketing research is covered by a separate code, also containing a rule relating to children:
1. ICC International Code of Advertising
All advertising should be legal, decent, honest and truthful. Every advertisement should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility and should conform to the principles of fair competition, as generally accepted in business. No advertisement should be such as to impair public confidence in advertising.
1. Advertisements should not condone any form of discrimination, including that based upon race, national origin, religion, sex or age, nor should they in any way undermine human dignity.
2. Advertisements should not without justifiable reason play on fear.
3. Advertisements should not appear to condone or incite violence, nor to encourage unlawful or reprehensible behaviour.
4. Advertisements should not play on superstition.
Children and young people
The following provisions apply to advertisements addressed to children and young people who are minors under the applicable national law.
Inexperience and Credulity
a) Advertisements should not exploit the inexperience or credulity of children and young people.
b) Advertisements should not understate the degree of skill or age level generally required to use or enjoy the product.
Special care should be taken to ensure that advertisements do not mislead children and young people as to the true size, value, nature, durability and performance of the advertised product.
i. If extra items are needed to use it (e.g., batteries) or to produce the result shown or described (e.g., paint) this should be made clear.
ii. A product which is part of a series should be clearly indicated as should the method of acquiring the series.
iii. Where results of product use are shown or described, the advertisement should represent what is reasonably attainable by the average child or young person in the age range for which the product is intended.
c) Price indication should not be such as to lead children and young people to an unreal perception of the true value of the product, for instance by using the word 'only'. No advertisements should imply that the advertised product is immediately within reach of every family budget.
Avoidance of Harm
Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation that could have the effect of harming children and young people mentally, morally or physically or of bringing them into unsafe situations or activities seriously threatening their health or security, or of encouraging them to consort with strangers or to enter strange or hazardous places.
a) Advertisements should not suggest that possession or use of a product alone will give the child or young person physical, social or psychological advantages over other children or young people of the same age, or that non-possession of the product would have the opposite effect.
b) Advertisements should not undermine the authority, responsibility, judgement or tastes of parents, taking into account the current social values. Advertisements should not include any direct appeal to children and young people to persuade their parents or other adults to buy advertised products for them.
1. Responsibility for the observance of the rules of conduct laid down in the Code rests with the advertiser, the advertising practitioner or agency, and the publisher, media owner or contractor.
a) Advertisers should take the overall responsibility for their advertising.
b) Advertising practitioners or agencies should exercise every care in the preparation of advertisements and should operate in such a way as to enable advertisers to fulfil their responsibilities.
c) Publishers, medium-owners or contractors, who publish, transmit or distribute advertisements should exercise due care in the acceptance of advertisements and their presentation to the public.
2. Those employed within a firm, company or institution coming under the above three categories and who take part in the planning, creation, publishing or transmitting of an advertisement have a degree of responsibility commensurate with their positions for ensuring that the rules of the Code re observed and should act accordingly.
This Code is to be applied nationally and internationally, and should be the basis for the decisions by bodies set up for the purpose of self-regulation.
Any request for interpretations of the principles contained in this Code should be submitted to the ICC Code Interpretation Panel.
2. ICC International Code of Direct Selling
Direct sellers offering products to children should:
3. ICC International Code of Direct Marketing
All direct marketing activities should be legal, decent, honest and truthful.
Every direct marketing activity should be carried out with a due sense of social responsibility and should conform to principles of fair competition as generally accepted in business. Activities should not appear to condone or incite violence, nor to encourage unlawful or reprehensible behaviour.
No activity should be such as to impair public confidence in direct marketing.
Children and young people
Direct marketing activities addressed to children and young people should not exploit their credulity or inexperience. No direct marketing activity should be undertaken which is likely to harm children mentally, morally or physically, or to strain their sense of loyalty vis-a-vis their parents or guardians.
Sellers and operators offering products to children should:
Safety and health
Information provided with the product should include proper directions for use and full instructions covering health and safety warnings whenever necessary. The required health and safety warnings should be made readily understood by the use of pictures, text or a combination of both.
Goods and, where applicable, samples should be packaged in such a way as to be suitable for delivery to the customer - and possible return - in compliance with valid health and safety norms.
4. ICC Guidelines on Advertising and Marketing
on the Internet (1998)
Advertising to children
Advertisers and marketers offering goods or services to children online should:
Respect for the potential sensitivities of a
Given the global reach of electronic networks, and the variety and diversity of possible recipients of electronic messages, advertisers and marketers should be especially sensitive regarding the possibility that a particular message might be perceived as pornographic, violent, racist or sexist.
5. ICC International Code on Sponsorship
Children and Young People
Sponsorship addressed to or likely to influence children and young people should not be framed so as to take advantage of their youth or lack of experience. Furthermore, such sponsorship should not be framed so as to harm children or young people mentally, morally or physically, nor to strain their sense of loyalty vis-a-vis their parents or guardians.
6. ICC International Code of Sales Promotion
Children and Young People
Sales promotions addressed to children and young people, should not exploit their credulity or inexperience. No sales promotion should be undertaken which is likely to harm children or young people mentally, morally or physically, or to strain their sense of loyalty vis-a-vis their parents or guardians.
7. ICC/ESOMAR International Code of Marketing
and Social Research Practice (1995)
The Researcher must take special care when interviewing children and young people. The informed consent of the parent or responsible adult must first be obtained for interviews with children.
Document n¢X 240-46/261 Rev.4
9 April 2003