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 pounds 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, but also 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 on 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
The advice was drawn up with the help of experts on child behaviour and
from research carried out 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.