Rupert Howell, the president of the Institute of Practitioners in
Advertising, has attacked members’ contributions to a BBC2 documentary
as ’almost beyond belief’.
In a stinging letter sent to IPA council members and agency chief
executives, Howell points the finger at Saatchi & Saatchi’s marketing
director, Stephen Colegrave, who contributed to the programme called
Getting Older Younger.
Howell wrote: ’The comments ... will have damaged our case to protect
our freedom to advertise to children. At the very least, could I ask you
to let the IPA know if you are going to take part in such a programme,
because we have detailed briefing documents available to you.’
Both Colegrave and Peter Mead, the chairman of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
(which refuses to take on toy clients), made contributions to the
Colegrave is quoted saying: ’The great thing is that if you go into
primary schools they are open to commercialism.’ Mead’s contribution
included the words: ’The great thing about kids is that their memory
banks are relatively empty so any message that goes in gets
Howell concedes in his letter that the industry was always going to come
off badly because ’the programme makers successfully muddled advertising
to children with cause-related marketing and the worst in violent video
games, and the internet’.
The documentary shows interviews with representatives from the marketing
and advertising industries in between scenes from children’s focus
groups and extracts from video games.
Howell said: ’I believe that 99 per cent of agencies have a responsible
attitude towards advertising to children but this does not come across
in the documentary.
’People can do what they like but it is important to remind the industry
that there are times when collective interests are at stake.’