Principle 6 – deeper understanding

Use marketing and advertising that respect and support children’s rights

Principle 6 asks business to ensure that its communications and marketing do not adversely impact children’s rights.

To this end, business should guarantee that all of its product labelling is accurate, straightforward and complete. When planning a marketing campaign, business should consider the negative impact that sexualized body images and reinforced stereotypes may have on children. With this in mind, business should also consider the child’s greater susceptibility to manipulation.

This principle also calls on business to adhere to standards of business conduct as detailed in various World Health Assembly instruments. Health related issues addressed within these instruments include the marketing of breast-milk substitutes; tobacco; alcohol; and foods and non-alcoholic beverages. Finally, Principle 6 calls on business to use its communications and marketing to advance children’s rights awareness, and to promote positive self-esteem, healthy lifestyles and non-violent values. 

Consult children about the possible effect of the product/advertisement before launching them. Young person in the Philippines

The internet has shrunk our world, giving people around the globe access to information. People are exposed to innumerable products and services. By extension, children are today regarded as a viable market by many manufacturers and retailers. Saturday morning television – with its $100 million of child-focused advertising – bears testament to the importance of this market. Yale Rudd Center released a report from 2011 stating that in 2010, pre-schoolers, children, and teens saw 213,277,406 ads on TV for sugary drinks and energy drinks; and teens viewed 12% more of these ads compared to adults. As a result, the marketing methods and manufacturing processes of these products and services have come under increased scrutiny. As children around the world are heavily influenced by advertisements through all media, ethical advertising and marketing is now more important than ever.

WHA Recommendations

With this in mind, in May 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children. The goal was to reduce the impact of marketing foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt to children. This was an important move when you consider that:

  • Non-communicable disease (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases cause approximately 35 million deaths per year

  • An unhealthy diet is a key “modifiable” risk factor for NCDs

  • Overweight and Obesity ranks as the fifth leading risk for death in the world

  • In 2010, over 42 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese; 35 million of these children were living in developing countries