Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 26 August 2020
Law stated as at: 1 October 2020
As part of its ongoing monitoring, in August 2020, the ASA published its findings on whether advertisers are complying with the CAP Code requirements that some products should not be targeted at young audiences. The ASA has been monitoring adverts on the most popular video-sharing platform service and many other websites that are aimed at child viewers.
In its findings, the ASA found that 159 age-restricted adverts broke the advertising rules. The ASA identified a number of breaches where the following products were advertised:
- Gambling – 70 different betting ads were found on eight websites;
- Alcohol – 10 alcohol ads from a single brand were found on one website;
- E-cigarettes and tobacco – one e-cigarette ad was found on one website; and
- Food and beverages high in fat salt and/or sugar (HFSS) – 78 different HFSS ads from 29 advertisers were found on 24 websites and five channels on a popular video-sharing platform.
Why this matters:
The ASA noted that while some HFSS ads should not be targeted at children, there was a large variety of HFSS ads that broke advertising rules, with the majority unlikely to appeal to the younger generation – for example, ads for cooking sauces and butter.
As part of its five year strategy to better protect children online, the ASA will conduct this exercise quarterly over the next year and publicly report on its findings in a similar fashion. The regulatory body has also vowed to take action against repeat offenders, including securing the removal of non-compliant adverts.
The exercise is particularly important in light of the UK’s planned online harms regulatory regime, which will extend the UK’s rules to protect children online in respect of media. This follows the latest update to legislation following the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive.