Rules on Marketing Targeting Children in Norway
Marketing targeting children is not prohibited in Norway, but there are some rules that should cause bloggers and other marketers to be cautious. Barnevakten.no asks the Norwegian Consumer Authority about what parents should be aware of.
“Youtubers and bloggers must mark their features as advertisements if they have received money to promote products. When such marking is in place, is it allowed to talk nicely about products that children use, or do children have extraordinary protection against bloggers as well?”
“Targeting children is, in principle, not illegal. You must, however, be cautious when marketing towards children, when the advertisement can be seen or heard by children, or when it is of particular interest to children. There is also a general ban on direct purchase requests addressed to children, of the type «Buy Now!!»,” Department Director of the Norwegian Consumer Authority, Tonje Hovde Skjelbostad, answers.
“You must be careful about the content. For example, you must avoid the use of frightening, violent or sexualised content. Some products will also be unsuitable for marketing to children, such as bloggers who have many young readers. Products that we have seen as problematic are slimming products and credit loans.”
Hovde Skjelbostad points out that advertising of advertising must be made particularly clear when children are exposed. This, as it is more difficult for children to distinguish between commercial content and personal utterances – for example in blogs and social media.
Advertising for unhealthy food
“Is it forbidden to market unhealthy foods and drinks aimed at children?”
“No, it’s not forbidden in itself. What is prohibited by the general rules of the Marketing Act is to link «Buy Now!!» to unhealthy foods. The prohibition on purchase requests addressed to children applies to all products, not just unhealthy food. The food industry has made self-regulation of marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks to children. However, in our opinion, it is not sufficient, as it only applies to children up to the age of 13. It isn’t very well known, either.”
“Are there rules that concern appearance or self-image?”
“Yes. the Norwegian Marketing Act states: «Marketing must not conflict with good marketing practice».”
Target groups in social media
“On Facebook, marketers can choose to show their ads targeting 13-14 -ear-olds only. Is it allowed for Norwegian marketers to choose children as a target group on Facebook? ”
“It’s not illegal as such. However, as previously mentioned, the content of the advertisement must be adapted to the target audience and one must avoid direct purchase requests. It is very easy to go wrong here, get into either inappropriate content or purchase requests, it is, therefore, by no means recommended that you do so,” Tonje Hovde Skjelbostad concludes.
In its guidance to marketers, the Norwegian Consumer Authority writes that it is not allowed to toy with social uncertainty in advertising aimed at children. Advertising must not give the impression that children will be left out if they do not possess the correct brands. The audit has struck down on advertisements that play on emotions between parents and children. An ad in the magazine ‘Parents and Children’ (Foreldre & Barn) showed three smiling and playful children, while the fourth child sat in the window, watching. The ad had the following text «All the children went out to play. Except for Emilly – She had a Cherrox Copy».
Special provisions relating to the protection of children
Chapter 4 of the Norwegian Marketing Act deals with special provisions relating to the protection of children.
Section 19 – General provision
When a commercial practice is directed at children, or may be seen or heard by children, particular care shall be exercised with regard to the impressionability, lack of experience and natural credulity of children.
In the assessment of whether a commercial practice contravenes provisions in or introduced pursuant to this Act, account shall be taken of age, development and other factors that make children particularly vulnerable.
Section 20 – Unfair commercial practices affecting children
In the assessment of whether a commercial practice is unfair pursuant to section 6, emphasis shall be given to whether the commercial practice is directed especially at children. Even if the commercial practice is not directed especially at children, emphasis shall be given to whether the practice, by virtue of its nature or the product, is likely to influence children, and to whether the trader can be expected to foresee the particular vulnerability of children to the practice.
It shall be prohibited to include in advertising direct exhortations to children to purchase advertised products or to persuade their parents or other adults to buy the advertised products for them.
Section 21 – Special provisions relating to good marketing practice towards children
In an assessment pursuant to section 2 of marketing directed at children, emphasis shall be given to, among other things, whether the marketing:
- encourages breaches of the law, dangerous behaviour or breaches of ordinary safety norms,
- plays on social insecurity, a bad conscience or poor self-confidence,
- employs frightening means or is likely to cause fear or anxiety, or
- employs aggressive means like violence, sexuality or drugs.