NEWS30 September 2010

Kids researchers and marketers told to put themselves in Check

Government UK Youth

UK— Government threats of a crackdown on “irresponsible” advertising and marketing to children have led the communications industry to collaborate on a new website to educate marketers about existing regulations and best practices.

‘Check’ – the Children’s Ethical Communications Kit – is designed to provide easy access to all the rules companies need to be aware of when researching or marketing to kids.

Geoff Gosling, chairman of the Market Research Society’s (MRS) Standards Board, said: “We have been involved in developing the website by supplying our recently updated, and toughened, MRS code rules on children’s research.

“To complement the new rules MRS has also issued new best-practice guidelines on conducting research with children, which are currently out for consultation with the sector.”

Culture minister Ed Vaizey welcomed the launch of the website, saying the government “fully supports this important work”.

“Childhood should be free of excessive commercialisation and inappropriate content,” said Vaizey. “Fortunately the UK advertising industry has a good track record in taking its responsibilities seriously, and this industry-led initiative is further evidence of that.”

Marketing to children is one of the key issues being looked at by the government’s childhood and families task force. Launching the task force in June, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “We are committed to cracking down on irresponsible advertising and marketing… If we are really going to restore and protect the innocence of childhood, action here is absolutely key.”


1 Comment

12 years ago

Speaking as a parent I find the proposed/draft MRS code much too soft, too much in favour of clients and too little in favour of families or specifically children. Amongst my beefs are: a) it permits research in school. This is not why we send our children to school. The rules say parental permission 'may' be asked, but teacher or head is allowed. No way! (I am happy for some social research to be conducted in schools, but not commercial research). b) it allows a researcher who discovers a child in in harm (for example being molested) to report it under some circumstances. No way! It should be a duty to ensure that either the police or social services are alerted, not an option that the researcher may choose if they wish. c) I believe that any research that facilitates the marketing of products at children should be ruled by the code as unethical. Do we really want MR to be associated with trying to get children to eat more junk, drink more junk, or to pester parents into buying things that might not be affordable? Let us hope that it will not be too much longer before the government bans the marketing of products at children altogether, but until then we should recognise that helping this kind of marketing is not ethical. I think we need to think like parents, not like businesspeople on this occasion.

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