Tips for Consumers: Holiday Advertising to Children

Tips for Consumers
Holiday Advertising to Children

Children are not the same as adults. They are impressionable. As the holiday season approaches, young people throughout the Hagerstown area will be deluged with ads for new toys, movies, games and foods. As adults we must help them understand the ads they read, hear on radio, and see on TV and the Internet.
The National Council of BBBs provides many tips on which advertising practices are acceptable to children. For example, we ask advertisers to run ads where:
* Words like "only" and "just" describing the price are avoided.
* Fantasy elements used in the commercial are clearly "just pretend."
* Children are shown using the product in a way that the average child could.
* The ad shows a reasonable number of toys a child might own.
* A child or adult is not shown doing anything unsafe. Children are not shown using bad manners or offensive language and over consumption is not encouraged.
* The ad makes clear what is (and is not) included in the purchase.
* A food product is shown within the framework of a balanced diet.
* Any assembly requirement is disclosed.
* The size of the product is shown.
* Any need for batteries is stated.
* Any premium offer like a free toy is secondary to the product itself.
* The ad does not use demeaning or derogatory social stereotypes.
* No claim is made that the adult who buys a product for a child is better or "more caring" than one who doesn't.
* The ad reflects favorably on parental judgment or proper sources of child guidance like schools.
* The ad doesn't suggest that a child would be superior to friends or more popular by using the product.
* Claims about any product are truthful and not misleading.
Commercials should be clearly separated from the show and program hosts or characters should not do the commercials within their own shows. Small children cannot always tell where the program ends and the commercials begin.
If you see improper ads for children, let us know.

To file a complaint visit: or write: BBB, 1414 Key Highway, #100, Baltimore MD 21230. Their office serves Baltimore and all of Greater Maryland.