Movies expose children to worse behaviour than advertisements

21 June 2016

Children are exposed to far worse behaviour in television programmes and movies than they are in advertisements, says Lindsay Mouat, CEO of the Association of NZ Advertisers, in the latest FGC Leaders Series video about industry codes around advertising food to children.

“Parents have a role in what children see and hear in terms of media, and it’s not just television – what social media sites they are on, whether they’re exploring the internet.

“You can show all sorts of things in content in programmes. So actually, young people are exposed to far worse behaviour in programmes and movies than they will ever see in an alcohol advertisement.

“The advertising industry takes steps to be responsible – that’s a given – but at the end of the day there are a whole lot of other things going on in the world.

“So if you take social media for an example – in theory you have to be 13 to sign on to Facebook. We know children younger than 13 are signing up, so whose responsibility is that? Is that the industry or is that parents? It’s like all parts of society, we have to look at where responsibility falls, and ultimately for children that responsibility fundamentally lies with parents.

“Industry provides some framework for that but ultimately it’s parents’ decisions about what, particularly young children, eat, what they watch in terms of media, how much they play outside, how much time they have on tablets etc.

“Parents have to be part of that. It’s important that parents are well educated, and indeed children are well educated, but that’s where the responsibility lies.”

On the current review of the advertising codes to children, he says the advertising industry has been arguing for some time that they need to be reviewed.

“The media world has changed from what it was in 2008 where the code was quite television-centric. The way young people consume media today is vastly different. On the other hand, community standards move over time. It’s important to actually take a step back and say, is it fit for purpose? And if industry is going to run self-regulation – if it’s going to take a responsible approach – part of that is to regularly review the codes.

“We need to take time to look at the codes and say are they appropriate for today.”

FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich says FGC supports the current code review because the industry must make sure it’s moving with the times.

“We must keep up with the way children are using the new mediums and work hard to make sure they are not picking up messages that are not meant for them.

“The industry has a very responsible attitude when it comes to advertising food to children, adhering to strict marketing and advertising rules which oppose encouraging over-consumption of any food, particularly treat food, snacks, or fast food. 

“As well as that, our member companies have policies that they will not put advertising where children are the main audience. Our members regard the current advertising codes as very important and as the right and responsible thing to do.”

Speakers in the FGC Leaders Series so far have been Geoff Shaw of Saturn Group on training up talent for senior roles, Sharna Heinjus of Kimberly-Clark on sustainability, Veronique Cremades of Nestlé on health and wellness, and Gerry Lynch of Mars on health and safety, Kelly Smith on talent and retention, Pic Picot on environmental sustainability, Mark Callaghan on health and wellness, Alison Barrass on health and safety, and Craig Cotton on health and safety leadership.


Watch or link Lindsay Mouat’s video on FGC’s YouTube channel here.