Minister: ‘We won’t batter marketers’

parliament (2)The Minister for Children & Families Tim Loughton has called for a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to advertising regulation, claiming that beating brand owners over the head for marketing to kids is pointless.
Speaking exclusively to Decision Marketing, Loughton – who also chairs the UK Council for Child Internet Safety – believes the authorities must work with marketers to form a consensus about how they should target children; both on and offline.
He said: “Big brands have huge marketing budgets and the power to change consumer behaviour. We need to work with them, not bash them with a heavy stick.”
Citing the previous Labour Government’s clampdown on junk food, he slammed measures brought in to tackle child obesity as “ham-fisted”.
Loughton explained: “By banning many ads around children’s TV programming, it meant that production budgets for UK shows were slashed. Consequently broadcasters had to import more TV shows from the US, where overt product placement of fatty foods is the norm. It also drove kids online, where there’s virtually no advertising regulation.”
Loughton’s comments appear to show a softening of Conservative hardline pledges to come down on brand-owners, and the co-operative approach will certainly be welcomed by the marketing industry.
During the General Election, David Cameron told GMTV: “I want to make Britain the most family-friendly country in the world. A key part of helping families and mending our broken society is making sure that business is responsible in how it markets and advertises products to children.
“We will ban the most irresponsible marketing techniques and introduce penalties for agencies caught flouting the rules – banning them from winning Government contracts for three years.”

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