ICC Marketing Commission Looks to Bring Sense to Debate Over Children’s Advertising

ICC Marketing & Advertising Commission members met at Microsoft’s San Francisco offices.

Amid a year-long celebration of the 80th anniversary of the International Chamber of Commerce’s landmark global marketing code (formally known as the ICC Consolidated Code of Advertising and Marketing Communications Practice), ICC members gathered in San Francisco on December 4-5 to discuss emerging challenges to the self-regulatory framework exemplified by the ICC Code.

The ICC Marketing and Advertising Commission, chaired by Brent Sanders, associate general counsel with Microsoft, meets twice annually, and this gathering marked the commission’s first visit to the West Coast in several years. Among the guest speakers was Jurgen Van Staden, privacy and public policy manager at Facebook, who addressed the evolving landscape for advertising self-regulation in a fast-evolving digital landscape and encouraged ICC members to ensure that the ICC Code remains fit for purpose.

Top of mind for many participants were new regulatory threats that may impose overly stringent constraints on the marketing of products to children and teenagers. National and global regulatory bodies are increasingly focused on the topic, and many policy responses seek to address “up-aging” (increasing the upper age limit of childhood), limitations on screen time, and privacy and data security, as well as many other concerns.

According to Jonathan Huneke, USCIB’s vice president for communications and public affairs, who attended the ICC meetings, business representatives are seeking to bridge the significant divergence of regulatory practice between the United States, the European Union and other jurisdictions.

“Not surprisingly, national standards for marketing and advertising can vary widely between countries,” he said. “To take one example, the EU’s soon-to-be-implemented General Data Privacy Regulation imposes an absolute right to privacy that may complicate efforts to comply with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, where restrictions on the use of data is less restrictive for those aged 13 and over. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential regulatory divergence.

ICC members agreed to develop a toolkit to respond to threatened bans on marketing to children and teens, drawing upon the ICC Code, as well as related ICC guidance on food and beverage marketing, online advertising, and other issues. They will also explore conducting an outreach and educational campaign for policy makers around the world, to raise awareness of self-regulation as an effective means of maintaining high standards of marketing and advertising practice.

Commission members also reviewed proposed changes to the ICC Code in the areas of data-driven and interactive marketing. The next meeting of the ICC Marketing and Advertising Commission will take place in Paris in late June. You can view and download copies of the ICC Code and many other resources on marketing and advertising at ICC’s Codes Centre website.

Read more about USCIB’s Marketing and Advertising Committee here.

Staff Contact:   Jonathan Huneke

VP, Communications and Public Affairs
Tel: 212.703.5043

Jonathan Huneke is responsible for USCIB’s strategic communications, including media relations, publications, online content and high-level public events. He also manages the work of USCIB’s Marketing and Advertising Committee.
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