ICC releases statement on age considerations for marketing and advertising to children and teens

Paris, 14 December 2016 - The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) unveiled its Statement on Code Interpretation to provide clarity on defining the appropriate age of children and young people when it comes to targeting them in advertising.

Children Code Image (3)

The ICC Consolidated Code of Marketing and Advertising Practice (“ICC Code”) sets forth international standards for marketing communications. It includes provisions addressing special responsibilities for marketing products and services to children and young people. The ICC Code serves as the gold standard for most nationally applied self-regulation around the world.

The Statement on Code Interpretation is supplemented by a Reference Guide on Advertising to Children, which illuminates important research that supports the age parameters described in the Statement.

Created in response to the resurgence of initiatives to ban or limit data collection from children, the ICC Commission on Marketing and Advertising's Research Guide is informed by almost 100 years of research on child development. The Commission particularly recognizes that children and teens have different interests and abilities. In the discussion paper, ICC draws on crucial research outlining the difference in cognitive abilities, sensibilities and understanding between children and teens. The world business organization reaffirms its support for defining “children” as age 12 and younger (i.e. under 13 years old), and “young people” or “teens” as under age 18. These age parameters are consistent with many content ratings, safety laws and self-regulatory initiatives around the world.

The growing globalization of markets as well as inconsistency in how "children" are defined from both a regulatory and self-regulatory perspective, presents a risk of undermining the ability to provide a workable and harmonized approach. “Children and young people will inevitably be exposed to marketing communications,” said Sheila Millar, Vice-Chair of the ICC Commission on Marketing and Advertising and Partner at Keller & Heckman. “While ICC recognizes that some local laws may define “children” and “young people” differently, ICC’s guidance takes a consistent and uniform approach regarding the age parameters of both groups and encourages a more coherent approach in marketing and advertising practices to children and young people.”

ICC supports the view that special attention is required for marketing communications directed to children and teens. ICC developed this guidance to assist self-regulatory organizations seeking to implement marketing self-regulatory initiatives at the local level as well as to promote harmonization of this approach across regions. ICC continues to promote the benefits of advertising self-regulation to enhance and preserve consumer trust and confidence in business and to preserve a dynamic marketplace where innovation flourishes.

Download the Statement on Code Interpretation and Reference Guide on Advertising to Children (PDF, 1Mb)

ICC Commission on Marketing and Advertising

ICC Consolidated Code of Marketing and Advertising Practice

ICC Statement on Freedom of Commercial Communications