Advertising to children
Advertising to children

The following TMT practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Advertising to children
  • Legislation
  • CAP and BCAP Codes
  • Rules prohibiting the sexualisation of under-18s in advertising
  • Scheduling rules
  • Food and drink
  • Gambling
  • Sales promotions
  • Data protection
  • In-app purchases
  • More...

This Practice Note summarises key issues that arise when advertising to children. It covers:

  1. Legislation

  2. CAP and BCAP Codes

  3. Food and drink

  4. Gambling

  5. Sales promotions

  6. Data protection

  7. In-app purchases

  8. Online behavioural advertising


The key legislation that governs advertising practices is the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, SI 2008/1277 (CPUTR 2008) which implement the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC (UCPD).

The UK government has published guidance on the CPUTR 2008.

The CPUTR 2008 deal with issues such as price advertising, false or misleading advertising and comparative advertising. They apply regardless of whether activities are targeted at children or not. Unfair commercial practices are prohibited and may also be a criminal offence. Regulation 2(5) also provides protection for vulnerable consumers, which includes children.

A European Commission study has explained why children need extra protection in an advertising context:

  1. children have clear difficulties in recognising online advertising and consciously defending themselves against commercial persuasion. They are affected in their choices and behaviour by such practices

  2. the effects of embedded advertisements in games on actual behaviour can be clearly documented. A behavioural experiment investigating the effect of embedded advertisements in games (in this case an advergame) found that playing a game promoting energy-dense food induced higher energy-dense snack intake among children compared to children playing an advergame promoting a non-food product

  3. a behavioural experiment investigating the effect of prompts to

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