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Code for advertising directed at children and young people

Code for advertising directed at children and young people


A. General
B. Special Advertising Codes
C. General recomendations
D. Working Procedure

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Code for advertising directed at children and young people

Code for advertising messages specifically directed at children and minors/young people, wholly or partly.
The way in which children and minors/young people perceive and/or react to advertising depends on their age, experience and the way the advertisement is brought to their attention. An advertising message appropriate for minors/young people is not necessarily appropriate for children. When making advertising directed at children and minors/youths, the recognisability of the advertising communication is important. In addition to the general rule, the manner in which this is fleshed out is explained per medium in Chapter III. The Advertising Code Committee and the Board of Appeal will take this into account when they have to decide whether this code has been violated. In addition to this code all other provisions of the Dutch Advertising Code will remain in full force regarding advertising which is specifically directed at children and minors/young people, wholly of partly.



Minor/young person: person under the age of 18

Child: person of 12 and under

Parent/caretaker: the legal representative of the minor/young person.

Advertising directed at children: advertising which is specifically directed at children, wholly of partly.

Letterbox advertising: all advertising material which is distributed through the letter box or post office box, whether by direct mail or door-to-door, which does not form an integral part of another medium such as newspapers or magazines;

Door-to-door sampling: the distribution of goods or samples by direct mail or door-to-door free of charge;

Distance contract: contract which is concluded exclusively by the use of one or more forms of distance communication technology, as part of the distance sales or service system, set up by the seller or service provider.

Tele-shopping: a television programme where direct offers are made to the public to the effect of supplying products on payment of costs.

Tele-marketing: the systematic use of a telephone conversation to commend consumer goods, services or concepts; this also includes the solicitation for services;

Digital and Audio(-Visual) media: all media that are digital and/or audio(-visual) and therefore not on paper, for example TV, Internet, SMS and e-mail as well as CD-ROMs and computer software.

Social Media: on-line platforms where users provide all or part of the content, with or without (minimal) intervention by one or more editors. Examples of social media include weblogs, forums, social networks like Hyves, Facebook and LinkedIn, and services like Twitter.

Posts: interactive messages of any kind (including response to such messages) that can be placed on social media.

Virtual / On-line World: a world simulated by a computer in which users can interact. The interaction may be based on an economic element (such as Second Life), a social element (such as Habbohotel) or a game element (such as World of Warcraft), or combinations of these elements. Characteristic of a virtual world is that the user may shape his or her identity and/or appearance.

Game and In-game Advertising: advertising made in or by means of a game (digital game and/or contest) in which either an advertising communication appears in the game or the game itself is the advertising communication.



Article 1
Advertising directed at children shall not contain words, sounds or pictures which may somehow mislead children about the qualities and properties of the product offered.

Explanation of article 1
Advertising directed at children shall take into account their comprehension and expectations, especially regarding the playing pleasure, the size and the performance of the offered product.

Article 2
Par. 1
Advertising directed at children may not cause any moral or physical damage and should therefore comply with the following  criteria for the benefit of their protection: it shall not encourage them to buy a certain product by exploiting their lack of knowledge or their credulity;
a.     it shall not directly incite their parents or others to buy the products advertised.
b.     it shall not abuse the trust of children in parents, teachers or others;
c.     it shall not depict children in hazardous situations.

Par. 2
Pursuant to the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, if an advertisement falls within the scope of application of this Directive then the word ‘children’ should be read as ‘minors’ in this article.


Article 3
Advertising directed at children shall not suggest that the possession of or use of a certain product confers on them a physical or social advantage vis-à-vis other children, nor shall not being in possession of a certain product in any way confer the opposite effect.



Advertising shall be identifiable as such, by its layout, presentation content or otherwise, especially having in view the public for which it is intended (see article 11, Dutch Advertising Code).

(Youth) magazines or other printed matter
Article 4a

An advertisement (incl. the so-called advertorial) in a youth magazine or in other printed matter with a reach of over 25 % of children, shall be headed by the word ‘advertisement’ of 12 point size.

The reach is calculated according to a reach survey generally accepted in the market.

Digital and Audio(-Visual) Media Radio and television
Article 4b
Advertising on radio and TV shall be clearly separated from the rest of the programmes by optical and/or acoustical means. (see article 11 of the Dutch Advertising Code)

Article. 5
Par. 1 banner and pop-up

If an advertisement directed at children, is made visible on a website (= a banner) or via a website (=pop-up), the advertisement shall bear the word ‘advertising message’ or ‘advertisement’, clear and at a single glance perceptible. Should the message be smaller than 150 x 50 pixels, then the abbreviation ‘adv.’ may be used. The provisions of this article also apply to banners and pop-ups on social media.

Par. 2 hyperlink
If an advertising message contains a hyperlink, the page made visible by the hyperlink shall not contain any messages conflicting with this code.

Par. 3 social media
•      Advertising in posts and other advertising that is not a banner or pop-up on social media used by children must be clearly recognisable by optical, virtual and/or acoustic means appropriate for children’s capacity to understand.

Par. 4 virtual world
•      Advertising in a virtual world in which children are present must be clearly recognisable by optical, virtual and/or acoustic means appropriate for children’s capacity to understand.

Par. 5 game and in-game
•      Game and In-game advertising must be clearly recognisable by optical, virtual and/or acoustic means appropriate for children’s capacity to understand and must distinguish itself from the game.
•      Game and In-game advertising must clearly and unambiguously state in the game and before the game can be started, by means appropriate for children’s capacity to understand, that the game or parts of the game constitute advertising and for which advertiser.

Par. 6
Advertisers are prohibited from directly encouraging children to advertise on their behalf.

Encouragement as referred to in par. 6 occurs, for example, when a child is offered any kind of benefit whatsoever in return for advertising (e.g. by “liking” a web page or Facebook page, or by forwarding messages). This may include, for example:
–       being allowed to download certain items or compete in a competition
–       offering additional options in the virtual world and/or game/in-game
–       offering items free of charge or at a discount so that children can maintain or improve their status or position in the virtual world.

Making a sponsored item available for no consideration is also prohibited if the child must pay for a similar item that is not sponsored (e.g. downloading wallpapers).


–     The advertiser is obliged to make sure that the recipient has given permission for sending him advertising messages by e-mail, or has ordered before a similar product as a client of the advertiser. (see art. 1.3 E-mail Code 2012)
–     Advertising by e-mail shall be clearly identifiable as such. Identification shall be made possible by the combination of sender’s address and subject. (see art. 2.1 through 2.3 E-mail Code 2012). Identification shall be made possible by the combination of sender’s address and subject. (see art. 2.1 E-mail Code)


Article 6
a.   In the case of an advertisement directed at children via e-mail, any advertisement in the e-mail shall bear the word ‘advertising message’ or ‘advertisement’, clear and at a single glance perceptible.
b.   Should the message be smaller than 150 x 50 pixels, than the abbreviation ‘adv.’ may be used.
c.   In case the e-mail itself represents the advertising message, the word ‘advertisement’ shall be mentioned at the top of the body.


SMS (Short message service- Text Messaging)
Article 7
In case an advertisement is directed at children via SMS (Text Messaging), the message shall mention the word ‘adv’, clearly and at a single glance perceptibly.



a.  Content of the advertising message
b.  Personal details
c.   Providing services
d.  Specific products


Letterbox advertising, door-to-door sampling and sales promotions
Article 8
It is forbidden to send or cause to send children addressed advertising material, which is held to possibly cause damage to the mental health of children.


Article 9
In the case of a distance contract (unlike tele-shopping), the seller or service provider shall urge a child to ask permission of his parents to make an agreement. The seller or service provider shall take all measures which can be reasonably expected from him, to make sure that this permission was given.


Article 10
In the case of tele-shopping children shall not be encouraged to make an agreement to buy or hire products.


Article 11
Persons starring in audiovisual programmes, who are for that reason held to have influence on children and enjoy their confidence, are not allowed to star in audiovisual advertising.



Article 12
Par. 1
When collecting personal details of a child, all effort shall be made to inform the child and/or his parent(s) of the purpose of collecting these data. Should commercial material be used, directed at the child or should otherwise a child’s details be deliberately collected, the aforementioned information shall be clear, easily accessible and comprehensible for children.

Par. 2
In adherence with the law, specific forms of elaborating personal details of a minor/young person under 16 require that the permission of the parent/caretaker be granted.

Par. 3
If a game, prize or any other activity is offered with a sales promotional purpose, the child shall not be required to disclose any other personal details than strictly necessary for that purpose.



Telephone information services
Article 13
Advertising messages for telephone information services of an erotic or pornographic nature, implicitly or explicitly referring to services of that nature, shall not (also) be directed at minors nor use them for this purpose. Minors shall not directly or indirectly be encouraged by means of advertising messages to make use of these information services and such messages shall not refer to minors.

Article 14
A marketer (the person who is professionally involved in telemarketing) shall make no offers to consumers whom he knows or could have known to be a minor (see Article 9 Telemarketing Code).



The Dutch Advertising Code includes a number of Specific Advertising Codes which contain provisions referring to children and minors. The following Specific Advertising Codes are involved:

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Cosmetic Products
  • Fieldmarketing
  • Self-Care Medical Products
  • Games of Chance offered by Licensees
  • Text Messaging Services
  • Social Media
  • Tobacco products
  • Telemarketing
  • Food Products


This Code became operative on 1 november 2013.