Advertising ban won't stop 'brand bullying', says childhood expert

Claims that consumerism is blighting the lives of British children have prompted calls for radical action

A Government proposal for a total ban on advertising aimed at children would fail to end the cycle of "compulsive consumerism" in which parents are trapped, the Government's adviser on young people has warned.

A prohibition on advertising targeted at under-16s was one of the proposals mooted in a leaked document drawn up by a Downing Street aide, containing policies designed to woo women voters.

A ban on the £100m industry targeting British children through television, radio, billboards and online advertising would put commercial children's channels out of business and hit food, electronics and entertainment giants.

But Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers' Union, who published a report for the Government into the commercialisation and sexualisation of young children, said insidious marketing via the internet would make an advertising ban ineffective.

The Downing Street leak coincided with the publication of a Unicef report warning that materialism had come to dominate family life in the UK as parents "pointlessly" amass goods for their children to compensate for long working hours.

Unicef suggested the obsession with consumer goods was an underlying cause of last month's riots and looting. Parents trap their children in a cycle of "compulsive consumerism" by showering them with toys and designer labels instead of spending time with them. Children were much happier in Spain and Sweden where the obsession with consumerism was far less embedded and family time prioritised.

The report called on the Government to emulate Sweden, which introduced a ban on television advertising aimed at children under the age of 12, in 1991. However, Mr Bailey said: "Parents told me they could cope with conventional advertising and didn't want a ban. It's the online behaviour, which bypasses parental influence, that they didn't understand. It's that pressure which comes from advertising around web search engines."

Mr Bailey, who agreed with the Unicef analysis, said: "Parents do lack confidence in their parenting skills and they give their children goods and toys as a substitute for giving them their time. Parents are loath to allow their child to be singled out for bullying because they haven't got the right brands or the latest iPad."

Children's minister Sarah Teather said she "shared Unicef's concerns about the rise of consumerism" and was working to implement Mr Bailey's recommendations, including restricting outdoor adverts containing sexualised imagery where children can see them. Ofcom introduced a ban on junk food advertising on programmes aimed at children under 16 in 2007. The regulators said the restrictions had reduced children's overall exposure to such adverts by 37 per cent.

Introducing the Swedish ban would prohibit advertising before, during and after programmes aimed at the under-12s. But Ofcom said it had no plans to extend the ban because research showed "television has a relatively modest impact on children's food preferences". The Government is looking at ways to strengthen child protection on the internet but is seeking co-operation with Google, You Tube and other major web players before threatening legislation. Marketing expert Dr Agnes Nairn, who wrote the Unicef report, said: "While children would prefer time with their parents to heaps of consumer goods, (their) parents seem under tremendous pressure to purchase a surfeit of material goods for their children. This compulsive consumption was almost completely absent in both Spain and Sweden."

Advertising rules around the world

Rules about advertising to children vary wildly from nation to nation. Examples include the following:



UK

Junk food ads banned in shows aimed at children aged four to 15 and ban on use of cartoon characters and celebrities in high-fat food ads aimed at primary-school children. Ofcom said 2007 restrictions had reduced children's exposure to junk food advertising by 37 per cent.



Sweden

Ban on commercials aimed at children under 12 when children are likely to be watching. Children's voice-overs and product placement banned. Restrictions on in-store promotions aimed at children.



USA

Advertising aired during programming aimed at under-12s limited to 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays. Tighter junk food restrictions under consideration.



Greece

Ban on advertising for toys between 7am and 10pm and total ban on advertising for war toys.



Germany

Ban on advertising making a "direct offer" to children. No linkage allowed to children's programmes.



Norway

Ban on ads 10 minutes before and after programmes intended for children.



Australia

Ads banned during programmes for pre-school children. Advertisers banned from using popular characters and celebrities to market products.

Top 20 youth brands

The Unicef report into the health and wellbeing of young people claimed British parents are trapping their children in a cycle of 'compulsive consumerism', buying them gifts in lieu of spending time with them. On the same day, a leaked No 10 report suggested banning advertising to the under-16s.

The most popular brands in this sector are:

1. Walkers crisps

2. The Simpsons

3. McDonald's

4. Coca-Cola

5. Nintendo Wii

6. YouTube

7. Maltesers

8. Haribo

9. Nintendo DS

10. Wii Sports

11. Game

12. Cadbury's Dairy Milk

13. Apple iPhone

14. Lego

15. Kellogg's Coco Pops

16. Kit Kat

17. Jaffa Cakes

18. iPod

19. CBBC

20. Nike

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
tvReview: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
Review: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
Football Vine shows Suarez writhing in pain before launching counter attack
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Sport
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his two goals in Arsenal's win over Hull
football
Arts & Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino, director
film
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

Business, Marketing and Tourism Volunteer Projects

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: As part of an ongoing effort to support local...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit