Public perceptions of harm and offence in UK advertising
The ASA commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct research into the public's views on what is harmful or offensive in UK advertising. The ASA Council and the ASA and CAP Executive need evidence about public perceptions to inform their decision-making on matters of harm and offence. Specific rules in the Advertising Codes require them to make judgements based on prevailing standards in society.
Recent research on the public's views on and understanding of offence and harm in advertising is limited. Commissioning more was a key recommendation for the ASA from the Bailey Review ‘Letting Children be Children’, which asks the ASA to test with parents the standards it applies to advertising.
Key objectives of the research were to explore:
- What people (including children) find offensive in advertising and why, including examples of different types of potential offence and the role of contextual factors in shaping views;
- What people (and particularly parents) feel is inappropriate or harmful for children to come into contact with through advertising, with the emphasis on sexual imagery;
- The role of context, humour, timing, language, images, placement and different media in shaping views of what is offensive and/or inappropriate; and,
- Whether children should always be defined as those under 16 when it comes to advertising regulation.