Make the grade with your back-to-school campaigns

Aug 10th '23

The back-to-school season is big business, prompting a flurry of spending as parents and carers stock up on school uniforms, lunch boxes and stationery supplies.  This, of course, presents the perfect opportunity for advertisers to run a number of different promotions. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rules on advertising to children, promotions, and competitions which it expects advertisers to comply with. Follow these tips in this bitesize lesson below to ensure that your back-to-school campaigns are top notch.


  • Aiming ads at children?

As the new school year approaches, advertisers will often use competitions and promotions to draw attention to relevant products on the market. The onus for buying school supplies and clothing most likely falls on parents and carers, and in turn, promotions for such products are targeted at them too. That said, if you do choose to run a promotion or competition aimed at children, you should make clear that adult permission is likely to be required, particularly if there is a cost associated with the prize. Further, it’s important to bear in mind that marketing communications aimed at children cannot include a direct exhortation to buy a product or ask someone to buy it for them.


There are also additional database practice considerations when collecting data from children.


  • Promotion terms and conditions

Regardless of whether you are targeting children or parents and carers, all significant terms and conditions should be made clear in your marketing. If your promotion is running for a limited time only, make sure you state a closing date, which, in most cases, shouldn’t be changed. Similarly, you should ensure that you have made a reasonable estimate of the likely demand and provide appropriate information on availability. Stating “subject to availability” is unlikely to be sufficient.


  • Advertise responsibly

Ensuring that your ads are responsible, regardless of who they are targeted at, is a non-negotiable as far as the ASA is concerned. Using a ‘Back to School’ theme in an ad for alcohol or other age-restricted products is likely to break the rules. Equally, using it in a context that sexualises school-age children will undoubtedly be considered offensive and irresponsible.


There goes the bell. Close your books and put down your pencils.


Source: Committee of Advertising Practice


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