ASA issue latest guidance in relation to body image concerns
At the beginning of August the ASA issued guidance in relation to body image concerns. They reiterated that all marketing communications should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society. Advertisers should ensure that they don’t portray particular body types in an irresponsible manner or present an unhealthy body image as aspirational, exploit people’s insecurities about their body image, or suggest that happiness or wellbeing depends on conforming to a particular physical appearance, or gender stereotypical body type or physical features.
They key points the ASA have focused on are:
- Don’t promote an unhealthy body image
- Advertisers must ensure that models are not depicted in a way which makes them appear underweight or unhealthy. The ASA has previously upheld a number of complaints about ads on the grounds that models were made to look unhealthily thin, through the use of lighting, makeup and clothing.
- Think about targeting
- Marketers should ensure that ads do not irresponsibly exploit the insecurities of children, young people and vulnerable groups.
- Don’t exploit insecurities or create pressure to conform
- Ads must not suggest that happiness or wellbeing depends on conforming to a particular body shape or physical appearance.
- Don’t create pressure to conform to an idealised gender stereotypical body shape or physical features
- Ads should not suggest that an individual’s happiness or emotional wellbeing depends on them conforming to an idealised gender stereotypical body shape or physical features.
- Cosmetic interventions
- Targeting restrictions were introduced in May this year which stated that ads about cosmetic interventions are prohibited from being directed at under-18s.
The Health and Social Care Committee also produced a report on the impact of poor body image on people’s health and have called on the government to work with advertisers to feature a wider variety of body aesthetics. They also suggested that the government work with industry and the ASA to encourage advertisers and influencers not to doctor their images. They also said that Government should introduce legislation that ensures commercial images are labelled with a logo where any part of the body, including its proportions and skin tone, are digitally altered.
The guidance is a welcomed addition to the current rules in the CAP Code, with a ruling only last week upheld against Heezes.com for being irresponsible as it exploited people’s insecurities around body image.
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