09 Dec 11
Won't somebody please think of the children?!
By Greg Russell, Trainee Planner/Buyer
The recent release of the Government commissioned Bailey Review into the sexualisation of children highlighted a growing concern that children are being pressured into taking part in a sexualised life before they are ready to do so. And that, through sexualised advertising, they are under increasing commercial pressure to consume the vast range of goods and services that are available to children and young people of all ages. The report calls on businesses and broadcasters to play their part and protect children from the increasingly sexualised ‘wallpaper’ that surrounds them.
It seems as though the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is taking these concerns seriously as there have been a couple of recent examples where they have taken action against outdoor advertisers. A Marks & Spencer bus ad for a lingerie range (see picture below) has recently been banned for being ‘overtly sexual’ and, because it was likely to be seen by children, ‘socially irresponsible’. This followed the advertising watchdog banning a Lynx ad due to it ‘objectifying women’ and ‘irresponsibly using material on media that could be viewed by children’.
These moves seem to be a clear reaction to the results of the Bailey report and highlight how the ASA want to be seen to be clamping down on advertisers who may be attempting to push their luck in order to gain maximum exposure for their ads.
Although these concerns appear to be valid, and no-one would argue that children don’t need to be protected from inappropriate material, I can’t help but think of Helen Lovejoy from the Simpsons. If she saw the M&S bus ad I’m sure she would say “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!” and it appears the ASA are listening!