Outdoor Digital Signage and Sexual Imagery

British outdoor advertisers, including outdoor digital signage users, have been asked to avoid placing advertisements with sexual imagery, in a long running debate about the appropriate nature of advertising content that can be viewed by children.

Following a report by prepared by the Mother’s Union, entitled, ‘Independent Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood,’ outdoor advertisers have been asked to pay particular attention to signs placed in the vicinity of schools and other places children may have prolonged exposure to them.

Reg Bailey, compiler of the report said: “A significant minority of parents feel negative effects from some images displayed, including advertising, in the public space. Unlike advertisements on television or radio, there is no option to ‘switch off’ on-street advertisements; there is no choice but to be exposed to them on, for example, billboards, bus shelters and public transport.”

The Outdoor Media Centre, the trade body for out of home advertising, says it gives a “cautious” welcome to the report; however they point out that few parents (10%) found advertising on the street or on public transport inappropriate in promoting to children.

“Advertising on billboards, street furniture and public transport happens in a very public space and advertisers understand that,” said Outdoor Media Centre chief executive Mike Baker. “There will always be the odd advertiser who wants to push the boundaries.  But the vast majority of outdoor advertisers and the wider industry (media specialists, communications planners, creative etc) have been very responsible in their approach to targeting children.”

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