The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) in collaboration with UNICEF organised a half-day consultative meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Children and Advertising in Sri Lanka on 1st August 2003. This consultative meeting was held to examine the complex interaction of relations between advertising, media and children – a topic on which there was very little informed debate in Sri Lanka. Recognising the market imperatives of advertising and also the need to safeguard the best interests of children, participants at the consultative grappled with the need to sensitise marketers and advertisers on the need to adhere to certain basic guidelines which are laid out in international covenants laying out the Rights of the Child. As was brought out at a consultative meeting, while the members of the Accredited Advertising Agencies Association (4A’s) spoke of the Association’s new code governing laying out self-regulatory guidelines for all its members, they questioned the commitment of ad agencies to any code of ethics and also flagged the need to focus specifically on children.
In the plenary discussions that followed, it was agreed that a study looking at Children and Advertising would also have to look at promotions and other marketing strategies as well. Some participants also felt there was a need to look at the entire spectrum of media and not just advertising when examining its effects on children. However, it was agreed that while a number of interventions and studies had concentrated on other aspects of the media, there research on children and advertising in Sri Lanka was abysmal. As such, it was also agreed that while a holistic perspective of the media was of pivotal importance in any study or intervention, a more focused examination of the impact of advertising on children was necessary as well.
This brief report and the related media monitoring exercise, conducted over 3 months in 2006, is the response to the needs and challenges articulated at the plenary session. It is in essence a first stab at establishing a greater awareness on and adherence to established codes of conduct relating to the use and portrayal of children in advertising, including the construction of content and messaging in advertisements and marketing directly aimed at children.
For a related report click here.