Protection for children appearing in TV ads

Attorney Tyrone Walker offers legal advice to children and parents, who appear in TV ads.


Advertisements often include children who are either acting or modelling, and many of these minors are babies or young teenagers who are unaware of their legal rights.

Attorney Tyrone Walker, director of Moore Attorneys, explained. “An important question looks at how the law protects children in adverts and how parents can ensure their children are not being exploited by the advertising industry.”

He explained that advertising is controlled by the Advertising Standards Authority (Asa) in South Africa. Among other subjects, their website (below) contains information about the rules of advertising (Asa Code), a complaints section and a list of recent decisions on whether certain adverts have contravened the code.

He assists various advertising companies in lodging and defending advertising complaints on a daily basis and some of the complaints are very interesting while others can be hysterical.

Read Keep children safe

Any member of the public can lodge a complaint with Asa where they believe an advertisement is in contravention of the Asa Code, a set of rules which advertisers and advertisements should abide by.

A large section of the code deals with children and how they can be used in adverts and how adverts must not influence children to perform an act that may disregard the child’s safety.

A recent complaint was lodged against VW for a TV advert where a couple discuss their daughter as if she isn’t there‚ mocking her artwork. At the end of the ad, the parents stop to buy ice cream and forget to get one for her.

Asa dismissed the complaints about the advert on Wednesday‚ saying: “The exaggeration and intended humour is clear enough to negate any argument that children are likely to suffer harm or that parents are likely to start abandoning or abusing their children as a result of this commercial.”

Read Child protection a priority

The complainants told Asa that in a country with high levels of child abuse‚ the portrayal of neglect was improper.

VW responded by saying that the advert was intended to have a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour. “Volkswagen is a family brand and would never encourage neglect or child abuse.”

Asa dismissed the complaint and stated that “… a hypothetical reasonable person would not interpret this commercial as an invitation to simply forget about their children…”

Details: Should any member of the public believe any advert is offensive, a complaint can be lodged on the Asa website.

If you find an ad offensive, or very funny, share it on @Sandton_News

Pascale Michael

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