ANZA calls for ASA children’s codes review

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The Association of NZ Advertisers is calling the current Advertising Standards Authority codes for advertising to children to be reviewed.

“It may seem counter-intuitive to some but advertisers are calling for more consistency,” says ANZ ceo Lindsay Mouat.

“Responsible self-regulation of advertising requires that advertising codes are reviewed regularly to ensure they are fit for purpose,” he said. “Given that many major food and drink advertisers have made a deliberate commitment to ensure they do not target their advertising to children, ANZA is keen to see consistency so that the commitment of responsible advertisers is not undermined.”

He says that the current ASA codes are more comprehensive than in many countries. “Calls to reduce advertising to children are typically repeated from overseas without reference to the standards already in place in New Zealand. For example the New Zealand advertising codes’ apply to all media – including brand websites and social media.

“Unfortunately misinformation and sensationalism become an obstacle to progress on the thorny issue of food marketing and children. And the default becomes a simplistic call for bans on food advertising to children without recognising the tight controls already in place.”

“Advertising and Obesity Advertising remains an easy target in the clamour for action to address obesity. The reality is that for children, meal choices are largely made for them and the influencing factors on obesity are many and varied.

“The UK Government-commissioned Foresight study found that exposure to food marketing was found to be one of no less than 106 different variables. And the US Institute of Medicine concluded that at best food marketing has only a modest direct effect on the food choices, preferences and behaviours of children.

“This is in no way meant to absolve food marketers of their responsibilities. If food marketing impacts children’s food choices at any level then food companies need to ensure that they are marketing responsibly.”

Advertising Food to Children
Mouat says that in the debate on obesity, a common refrain is that television is awash with advertising to children.

“This is far from the reality. Advertising in school-age children’s programme times is strictly limited. Any foods or beverages advertised in this zone must be approved under the Children’s Food classification against nutrient profiling standards. The result is that only 5% of advertising in children’s time zones are for food or beverages.

“And the Getting it Right for Childen commitment allows for no advertising in pre-school time zones on television. In fact no advertising, sponsorship or prize packs are allowed during pre-school television programming.”

Industry commitment
“At the same time many major advertisers have made a deliberate commitment to ensure they do not target their advertising to children,” he says. “Last year, the biggest multinationals, which form the International Food & Beverage Alliance, wrote to the head of the World Health Organisation to make a series of new commitments on labelling, product reformulation and innovation and, notably, a reinforced commitment not to market food and drinks in any country that do not meet strict nutrition criteria to children under the age of 12.

“Advertisers are taking a responsible approach when it comes to food and children. ANZA would like to see the voluntary initiatives taken reflected in the advertising codes.”

About ANZA
The Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA) provides a collective voice for advertisers in dealing with government, media, advertising agencies and other organisations in the advertising industry.

ANZA members represent many of New Zealand’s largest advertisers in sectors including alcohol, food and beverages, finance, therapeutics, retail and telecommunications.

ANZA’s mission is to protect the freedom to advertise responsibly and to enhance effective communications for its members. We are an advocate for the important role advertising plays in any modern consumer society, both in encouraging innovation and competition and funding many of the great variety of media channels available to the New Zealand public.

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