A European Commission probe into advertising in schools is alarming
industry lobbyists who fear the results will be used as an excuse for a
further clampdown on marketing to children.
Schools in Britain, France, Spain, Belgium and Scandinavia are taking
part in the survey, which will include poster sites, sponsored
materials, vending machines, audio-visual aids, sponsored company visits
and other means of introducing products into classrooms.
EC consumer affairs executives see the survey as the first step to
establish a European code of practice to regulate sponsorship in
But industry leaders believe it will provide ammunition for special
interest groups pressing for tougher restrictions on ads directed at
Lionel Stanbrook, the Advertising Association deputy director-general,
said: ’The EC is trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes. If you’re
going to legislate against advertising to children, a survey of
marketing to schools is a good place to start.’
The ZAW, the AA’s equivalent body in Germany, has already told a market
research company, one of a number sub-contracted by the EC to carry out
the research, that it will not co-operate until it knows what the
Commission’s agenda is.
In Britain, the industry has taken steps to distance itself from the
activities of Imagination for School Media Marketing, the company
attempting to take billboards into secondary schools.
But Stanbrook said: ’We see nothing wrong with school materials being
Industry lobbyists are disturbed by what they believe is a hand-in-glove
relationship between EC policy makers and
groups such as Consumers International, whose 1996 report on food
advertising to children - called A Spoonful of Sugar - was condemned as
’long on assumption and short on credibility’.