Marketing to Children

Responsible Advertising and Children

Responsible Advertising and Children

Defining the industry’s responsibilities

Advertising to children is a very sensitive issue. Some people think all advertising to children should be banned. We believe that in today’s media-filled world, this is neither practical nor desirable.

Brands can play a valuable and meaningful role in children’s lives. They can excite, entertain, educate and inform. They can bring colour, fun and laughter. We believe that such products can be marketed to children as long as strict criteria are met.

The Responsible Advertising and Children Programme helps brands identify what those criteria are. Effectively, what does it mean to advertise in a responsible manner products which have innate appeal to children? How can these brand owners future-proof their longer-term license to operate?

Since 2000, the Responsible Advertising and Children Programme (RAC) has brought together advertisers, agencies and the media at an international and European level to anticipate and understand societal and parental aspirations regarding responsible marketing communications and children. RAC brings together almost a thousand people globally with an interest and stake in the issue of marketing and children.

RAC’s vision is to provide global leadership by championing good practices in marketing communications to children. This exercise is shaped by a continuous dialogue and engagement with policy-makers, society and parents.

RAC keeps members up to speed with latest developments, engages with policy-makers and other stakeholders on priority issues, identifies emerging trends and concerns, draws up potential industry and company solutions, monitors member activities helping them steer clear of potential problems and drives “beyond compliance” programmes which help to future-proof companies’ ability to connect with younger consumers.

The RAC group is chaired by Astrid Williams, Senior Director for Public Policy, Government Affairs & Communications at PepsiCo.

How does RAC work?

Setting the right rules

RAC members support proportionate and sustainable statutory rules which frame how and what you can market to children. The group also champions advertising standards, which are monitored, policed and enforced independently in order to ensure an additional layer of consumer protection. It is RAC’s conviction that self-regulatory codes should complement rather than substitute statutory rules.

Beyond compliance

It is critical that brands which appeal to a child audience take a long-term, holistic view which takes into account the sensitivities around marketing to children. Such long-term strategies can be built around voluntary initiatives, such as those taken by IFBA member companies and EU Pledge signatories not to advertise certain products to children or support efforts to teach children to be media literate.

Media literacy

Children’s media habits have changed fundamentally with the uptake of new digital technologies. RAC supports the development of materials to be used by teachers to equip children with the skills to be critical of adverts. Materials are developed independently by academic experts in close collaboration with educational authorities. Media Smar has successfully taught over five million children in the EU.



  • Astrid Williams

    Astrid Williams

    Senior Director Global Health & Wellness Policy, PepsiCo

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