Code for Advertising to Children

August 2010



All advertisements in all forms of media that influence children whether contained in children's media or otherwise shall adhere to the principles and guidelines set out in this Code. Food and beverage advertisements that influence children are subject to the Children’s Code for Advertising Food. Reference should be made to the Interpretation section of the Codes of Practice.

The Code recognises that children are not a homogeneous group but have varying levels of maturity and understanding. Care should be taken to ensure that the product and style of advertisement are appropriate for the intended audience.

The Code recognises the need to extend a duty of care to protect children pursuant to the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child ("Convention"). Special notice is to be taken of Article 3 of the Convention, which states, “the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”. Article 13 recognises the child's right to freedom of expression. "This right shall include the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds." Children therefore have the right to receive all kinds of information, including advertisements. However, Article 17(e) calls for “appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being.” This Code provides the “appropriate guidelines” for advertisements that influence children.

It is noted that the Convention defines the age of a child as under 18. This Code defines the age of a child as under 14 in line with the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989 and aligns with the Broadcasting Standards Authority definition of a child.

In interpreting the code emphasis will be placed on compliance with both the principles and the spirit and intention of the code. The guidelines are examples, by no means exhaustive of how the principles are to be interpreted and applied. Upon considering a complaint, the ASCB is vested with discretion to ensure a commonsense outcome.

Advertisements should comply with the laws of New Zealand and appropriate industry codes including the New Zealand Television Broadcasters code “Getting It Right for Children” available on www.nztbc.co.nz.

For the purposes of this Code:

"Children" means all persons below the age of 14.

"Social Responsibility" is embodied in the principles and guidelines of the Code and is integral to the consideration of the Advertising Standards Complaints Board. Previous decisions of the Complaints Board also guide its determinations, as do generally prevailing community standards.

Principle 1 - Advertisements should be prepared with and observe a high standard of social responsibility.


1(a) Children should not be urged in advertisements to ask their parents, guardians or caregivers to buy particular products for them.

1(b) Advertisements should not portray violence, undue aggression, or menacing or horrific elements likely to disturb children.

1(c) Advertisements should not encourage anti-social behaviour or depict children behaving in an anti-social manner, eg. vindictiveness and bullying, unless the purpose of the advertisement is to discourage such behaviour.

1(d) Advertisements should not suggest to children that they are inferior or will lack social acceptance for not having the advertised product.

1(e) Advertisements, except safety messages, should not contain any statement or visual presentation that could have the effect of portraying children in unsafe acts, showing them in unsafe situations, encouraging them to consort with strangers, or behaving in an unsafe way.

1(f) Advertisements, except safety messages, should not show products being used in an unsafe or dangerous manner, or which would be unsafe if used by children without proper supervision.

1(g) Advertisements should not depict toy weapons which are realistic (in size, shape and colour) and can be confused with real weapons.

1(h) Advertisements should not include sexual imagery and should not state or imply that children are sexual beings and /or that ownership or enjoyment of a product will enhance their sexuality.

1(i) Advertisements should not include images that are degrading to any individual or group.

1(j) Advertisements to children should not promote gambling or gaming. However, the responsible use of sales promotions schemes to children is permitted. (Refer to the Code for Advertising Gaming and Gambling)

Principle 2 - Advertisements should not by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim mislead or deceive or be likely to mislead or deceive children, abuse their trust or exploit their lack of knowledge or without reason play on fear.


2(a) Advertisements should be clearly recognisable as such by children and separated from editorial, programmes or other non-advertising content.

2(b) Advertisements should be understood by children to whom they are directed, not be ambiguous, and not mislead as to the true size, value, nature of the advertised product

2(c) If extra items are needed to use the product (eg. batteries) to produce the result shown or described (eg. paint, dolls clothes) this should be made clear. A product that is part of a series should be clearly indicated as such as well as the method of acquiring the series.

2(d) In the case of a product that must be assembled, this should be made clear, and where appropriate, the source of power and performance should be indicated.

2(e) If price is mentioned, the complete price of the product should be made clear, and advertisements should clearly indicate the cost of those items that constitute the original purchase and additional items that must be purchased separately.

2(f) Where reference is made to a competition the rules should be made clear and the value of prizes and the chances of winning should not be exaggerated.

2(g) Any reference to a premium (eg. an additional product or service offered free, at a reduced price or as a prize) should be clearly displayed and conditions relating to it should be clearly represented.

2(h) Advertisements soliciting responses incurring a charge should state, "Children ask your parents first" or similar words.

2(i) Extreme care should be taken in requesting or recording the names, addresses and other personal details of children to ensure children's privacy rights are fully protected and the information is not used in an inappropriate manner.*

2(j) Care should be taken with advertisements promoting a competition, premium or loyalty/continuity programme to ensure that advertisements do not encourage excessive repeat purchase.

*Note: Notice should also be taken of Principle 3 of the Privacy Act 1993.


Advertising Standards Authority New Zealand, PO Box 10-675, Wellington 6143. PH (04) 472 7852 FAX (04) 471 1785 Email asa@asa.co.nz