UK ad industry to counter 'pester power' critics

- Britain's ad industry is counter-attacking critics who accuse it of whipping up "pester power" among children by offering advice to parents on how to cope with it.

- Britain's ad industry is counter-attacking critics who accuse it of whipping up "pester power" among children by offering advice to parents on how to cope with it.

With the pressures on parents from children set to intensify in the run-up to Christmas, the Advertising Association has published a list of "do's and dont's" to help overcome demands for expensive presents.

The AA has spent £20,000 to produce 23,000 copies of a booklet which is being distributed to schools and parent teacher associations as well as being inserted in national magazines.

The booklet not only suggests how parents can help their children face modern commercial pressures and how to complain about ads they believe overstep the rules on exploitation.

The initiative is the AA's response to what it has described as "half-cock" research by pressure groups on the links between advertising and "pester power".

The issue is set to become even more contentious with indications by Sweden that it will use its upcoming EU presidency to try to push through a Europe-wide ban ads directed at children.

The AA suggests parents try to watch some TV with their children and to discuss ads and programmes with them. Parents should also explain the purpose of ads to children and not allow themselves to be overcome by persistent pestering.

The advice was drawn up with the help of experts on child behaviour and research at schools in London and Exeter. It says parents should not buy presents for children to ease their conscience for not spending enough time with them. Nor should they necessarily believe every ad they see.

Lionel Stanbrook, the AA's deputy director-general, said the aim was to talk directly to parents and alert them to the increasingly competitive commercial world their children were facing.

"No responsible advertiser encourages children to pester," he added. "Not only doesn't it work in the long run but advertising is one of the most heavily regulated commercial activities in the UK. We want children to grow into sceptical consumers who will build brands."


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