Children’s Code

Children’s Code


The Code of Advertising Practice of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) contains general provisions recognised by all professionals. Since their introduction, some of these have applied directly to advertising aimed at children. As a result :

Marketing communication must not exploit inexperience or credulity [of children or adolescents] (article 18 of the ICC Code).

Marketing communication must not include any declaration or visual treatment that risks causing children or adolescents mental, moral or physical harm (article 18 of the CCI Code).

Respect for these principles must be assessed in accordance with the sensibilities of society as a whole at any given moment and those of the public sector exposed to the advertising.

In this context, the following deontological (ethical) rules apply to any message broadcast or distributed in France, irrespective of its form, when it shows children or is directly aimed at them

1. Identification of the advertising

1.1 The advertising must be clearly recognisable as such, irrespective of the medium used.

1.2 When it is aimed at children, the fact that the message is an advertisement must be quickly identifiable.

2. Social responsibility

The advertising must be designed with a sense of social responsibility :

2.1 The advertising must not present antisocial or criminal acts in a favourable light, or invite children to commit such acts.

2.2 It must not legitimise behaviour that would be contrary to the principles of citizenship or the rules of socially acceptable behaviour, hygiene practices, environmental protection or respect for others.

2.3 The advertising must not undermine the authority, responsibility or judgement of parents and educators.

3. Dignity, decency

3.1 The advertising must not be likely to offend sensibilities, shock or cause provocation by disseminating images of children that violate their dignity or decency.

3.2 The advertising must not portray children in situations likely to devalue or harm their physical or moral integrity.

3.3 The advertising must not be of such a nature that it makes children feel distressed or uneasy.

3.4 If the advertising contains a reference to child nudity, care must be taken to ensure that the child’s behaviour corresponds to that of his or her normal daily environment.

4. Violence

4.1 The advertising must avoid scenes of moral or physical violence or abuse, whether direct or implied.

4.2 Under no circumstances may the advertising, through its messages or its presentation, play down the significance of violence or abuse, or give the impression that such behaviour is acceptable.

4.3 It must not encourage children to copy aggressive or violent behaviour.

5. Safety

5.1 Advertising directed at children must present the products in an environment and in situations that conform to the safety rules established by the standards in force.

5.2 The advertising must not give the impression that dangerous or imprudent behaviour is acceptable and can be imitated, irrespective of the situation, including in play.

6. Honest advertising

6.1 The possibly misleading nature of an advertisement is assessed in accordance with the public sector the message is aimed at.

Advertising directed at children must take account of their age and experience.

Messages intended for children must be clear and simple to take account of their level of knowledge, vocabulary and experience.

6.2 The advertising must not mislead children, particularly with regard to :

  • the characteristics, size, value, nature, durability or performance of the product,
  • the expected results of its use, for example by minimising the strength, dexterity or skill levels required.

6.3 If the addition of certain elements or accessories is required for the product in question to function (e.g. batteries), this must be clearly indicated.

6.4 If the product is part of a set, this information must be clearly displayed in the advertising message.

6.5 The advertising must not lead children to have an opinion about a product or service that is so strong that they are subsequently unable to change their minds.

7. Education of young consumers

7.1 The advertising must not suggest that the possession or use of a product will give a child a physical, social or psychological advantage over others of the same age, or that not possessing the product will have the opposite effect.

7.2 Advertising directed at children must not provoke an impulse to buy urgently or suggest that this purchase is essential.

7.3 The advertising must not imply that the product shown is within the range of all family budgets or minimise its price by the use of such terms as “only”, “just”, etc.

7.4 The advertising message must not include references that directly encourage children to persuade their parents to buy the product or service for them.

8. Interactive advertising

The promotional nature of this type of message must be clearly recognisable.

8/1 When the message appeals directly to children (by telephone or any other interactive means) and encourages some form of spending (for example, by promoting a premium rate number), it must also encourage the children to seek the permission of their parents.

8/2 Interactive advertising must be restricted to the commercial purpose of the original promotion, excluding any misleading representation (e.g. wrongly identified icon). It must not provide direct access to a website not relate to the original advertising.

8/3 There must be no encouragement to arrange meetings with strangers, online or offline, or to go to unknown or unsafe places in order to take part in a game or receive a gift.

8/4 Personal data may only be collected or used in strict compliance with the law and the rules of the Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertés (CNIL – the French Data Protection Agency).

9. Videograms and entertainment software

Advertising promoting videograms and entertainment and leisure software must contain the restrictions applied to the content of certain products.

The recommended age groups for young audiences of certain films, together with the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) classification introduced by software producers within the framework of the Interactive Software Federation of Europe, must be clearly legible in the advertising.

First version, march 1975.