Guiding Principle: Advertising Directed to Children

This Guiding Principle expresses publishers’ overall obligations when accepting advertisements directed to children.

The underlying premise for these Principles is to ensure that any advertising directed to children is presented appropriately, clearly and in a way which children understand and is aligned with community values and expectations.

It identifies specific elements that are acceptable, or otherwise, when directing and accepting advertising towards children.


In this initiative:

advertisement means…

  • any material which is published using any medium or any activity which is undertaken by, or on behalf of an advertiser or marketer;
  • any material over which the advertiser or marketer has a reasonable degree of control; and
  • that draws the attention of the public in a manner calculated to promote or oppose directly or indirectly a product, service, person, organisation or line of conduct.

Child/children means:

Child/children under 14.

Popular personalities and licensed characters means:

  • a personality or character from a C television program or P television program;
  • a popular program or movie character;
  • a non-proprietary cartoon, animated or computer generated character.

Premium means:

anything offered free, or at a reduced price, and which is conditional upon the purchase of a children’s food or beverage product.

Core principles

This Guiding Principle places no restrictions on the advertising of products for adults in media directed to adults, or where the audience is predominantly adult.

However, publishers should be mindful of the strong community concerns around the issue of food and beverage advertising to children, and work to avoid any ambiguity about the target of specific advertisements outlined in the initiative.

Advertisements must…

  • wherever possible, promote positive and beneficial social behaviour, such as friendship, kindness, honesty, and respect for others;
  • show images of children and young people in advertising respectfully, which reflect positive, healthy lifestyle choices and show realistic images of what it is like to be young;
  • ensure visual representations of children in advertising campaigns portray children in realistic situations and poses, such as playing and laughing (not posing seductively);
  • child models should only be used with realistic and varied body shapes to represent the young population. This will help influence children and young people to maintain healthy body images;
  • fairly represent any product features which are described or depicted or demonstrated and/or the need for any accessory parts;
  • include a basic summary of competition rules and include the closing date for entries and make any statements about the chance of winning fair and accurate;
  • clearly delineate between commercial promotions and editorial content when using popular personalities or celebrities (live or animated) to advertise products;
  • make the terms of any offer clear, and include any conditions or limitations;
  • ensure any disclaimers or qualifiers are conspicuously displayed and be clear and easily understood;
  • include a statement that parental consent must be obtained before participation in any activity that results in the disclosure of personal information which may then be used for other purposes;
  • provide healthy dietary choices, consistent with established scientific or Australian government standards and encourage and include positive elements of advice or promotion in relation to good dietary habits and physical activity when advertising food and beverage products;
  • ensure that any imagery used within an advertisement promoting electronic games, purchased by or for children, accurately reflects the genuine content of the game and is not merely a “snapshot” of a scene which may be incidental to the true nature of the actual game; and
  • ensure when advertising videos, films and interactive software that only those which are age-appropriate are advertised to children and a classification rating should be prominently displayed.

Advertisements must not…

  • use any imagery to promote electronic games purchased by or for children which depicts violence or is frightening or distressing to children. Also the imagery must not promote or encourage children to participate in destructive or hazardous situations which may result in their physical or mental harm;
  • include sexual imagery, or state or imply that they are sexual beings and that the possession or enjoyment of a product will enhance their sexuality;
  • contain anything that includes dangerous practices which would result in their physical, mental or moral harm;
  • include any products which have been declared unsafe by Commonwealth statutory or any regulatory authority;
  • depict images or events in a way that may be unjustifiably frightening or distressing; and must not be demeaning of any person or group;
  • undermine the authority or role of a parent or guardian or encourage children to place pressure on their parents to purchase the product advertised; and
  • use premiums in a way that promotes irresponsible use or excessive consumption of the product or offer a premium unless the reference to the premium is merely incidental to product being advertised.