After the last 18 months, it may be that even the children will be pleased they’re returning to school, rather than just their parents! At this time of year, advertisers often look to tap into the annual back to school spending spree with different promotions. There are a number of rules to bear in mind, particularly on advertising to children, promotions and comparisons. Follow the tips below on some of the subjects that may come, to ensure you get an A Grade for your ads, and hopefully help you avoid a detention with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Aiming ads at children
Advertisers will often use competitions and promotions to drum up more interest in relevant products and these become more frequent as the new school year approaches. Section 5 of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code includes rules on ads that feature or address children.
If you’re running a promotion on school supplies, these will probably be targeting parents rather than kids themselves. However, if you do choose to run a promotion aimed at children, you should ensure you make clear that adult permission is likely to be required, particularly if there is a cost associated with a prize. Also, don’t forget that marketing communications aimed at children can’t include a direct exhortation to buy a product (or to ask someone to buy it for them).
There are also additional database practice considerations when collecting data from children.
Promotion terms and conditions
It doesn’t matter if your promotion is targeting children or parents, you need to make sure that you state all the significant terms and conditions in your marketing. Ads should state a clear closing date, which, in most cases, shouldn’t be changed. Make sure you’ve made a reasonable estimate of the likely demand and provided appropriate information on availability; it is unlikely that stating “subject to availability” would be sufficient.
Make sure your ads are responsible
Ads should be responsible regardless of what is being promoted. Therefore, please remember that even if your marketing isn’t aimed at school age children or their parents, you must still make sure you keep things responsible.
For example, using a ‘Back to School’ theme in an ad for age-restricted products, such as alcohol or gambling, is likely to break the rules. Using ‘Back to School’ in a context that sexualises school-age children will undoubtedly be ruled offensive and irresponsible.
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