Safety Code : dangerous behaviours and situations

Safety Code : dangerous behaviours and situations


Marketing communications should not, without justification on educational or social grounds, contain any visual portrayal or any description of potentially dangerous practices, or situations which show a disregard for safety or health, as defined by local national standards.(…). Children should be shown to be under adult supervision whenever a product or an activity involves a safety risk.
ICC Code, Article 17

(…)Children and young people should not be portrayed in unsafe situations or engaging in actions harmful to themselves or others, or be encouraged to engage in potentially hazardous activities or behavior. (…)
ICC Code, Article 18, Avoidance of harm

The following rules must be respected in all commercial communications, in addition to law and regulation applicable to dangerous objects, products or behaviours.

1. General principles


Commercial communications must not show dangerous or potentially dangerous behaviours or situations and must not encourage engagement in such behaviours and/or situations:

  • Whether or not they are associated with the use of a product or an object
  • Whether or not the object or product is dangerous

The different cases must be assessed regarding the context of the advertisement, the persons presented, the graphic design used, the artistic world reproduced and the public targeted.

Specific context

Certain dangerous behaviours can nevertheless be accepted, for example:

  • The presentation of a professional athlete or a sportsman, practicing his sport or his discipline, and identified as such in the advertisement;
  • The presentation of figurines or imaginary characters;
  • The presentation of an unrealistic or clearly absurd context,  making the behaviour impossible to replicate in real life;
  • The total or partial reproduction of a work, in the context of its promotion or exploitation (movies, series, documentary, reports, etc.).

2. Particular cases


Particular attention must be given to scenes portraying children or advertisements targeting children.

The presence of a supervising adult can reduce the potentially dangerous nature of a presented situation.

Promotion of safety or health

If one of the assertive goals of the advertisement is to promote safety or health, it can be legitimate to show a dangerous situation or behaviour in order to condemn it.

The denunciation of a dangerous behaviour or situation must be unambiguous, in order not to lead to the opposite result.

First version, september 1975.