In a previous post, Facing the Marketing Juggernaut, it was stated that children are targeted by many companies seeking not only to sell to children, but to create the next generation of consumers. In most European countries, marketing to children mirrors that of the United States. In the United Kingdom, for instance, there are no restrictions placed on advertising to children.
However, other countries have placed restrictions on advertising to children. Sweden and Russia do not permit any television advertising to be directed toward children under 12 and no advertisements are allowed during children’s programs. (Yudina, 2006)
But there is a debate within the European Union regarding advertising during children’s programming. Many European countries do little in the line of restrictions. As in the United States, there is movement toward self-regulation of producers and marketers. (Eagle, de Bruin, Bulmer, 2000)
The Swedish model was based on research conducted by Erling Bjurstrom, a Swedish Sociologist, who asserts that until the age of 12, children cannot understand the purpose of a commercial.(Pine, Nash) As a result, in 1991, Sweden banned all advertising during children’s prime time. But in 2000, Bjurstrom noted that the ban isn’t working because children have access to programming from other countries. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2000/nov/21/advertising1)
Marketing to children continues to confound parents and experts alike and it continues to reinforce the need for media literacy in the home beginning with preschool children.
Dr. Lynne Eagle, Anne de Bruin, Sandy Bulmer, Department of Commerce, Massey University at Albany, 2000, Advertising restrictions: Effective protection of the young and vulnerable, ANZMAC 2000, Visionary Marketing for the 21st Century: Facing the Challenge
Karen J. Pine and Avril Nash, Dear Santa: The effects of television advertising on young children, University of Hertfordshire, Herts, United Kingdom
Zinaida Yudina, 2006,Media, Law and Culture: Protection of children in Sweden, Russia and the US, Newsletter on children, youth and the media, No. 2, 2006