The UK has Government has announced new rules affecting outdoor advertisers, including outdoor digital signage, effectively banning sexually provocative content and restricting outdoor content placed close to schools.
The new rules, aimed at combating the sexualisation of children, means that any outdoor advertisement placed within 100 yards of a school will have to adhere to strict new guidelines enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Even those outdoor adverts located nowhere near schools face tough new rules, with explicit imagery banned altogether. While outdoor adverts and outdoor digital signage will be allowed to show models wearing bikinis, they will not be allowed to show them in sexual poses or even use couples engaged in a “passionate clinch.”
The new rules mean many famous adverts, such as Wonderbra’s “Hello boys” campaign featuring Eva Herzigova in a bra, would be unlikely to pass the new ASA rules.
Industries particularly affected by the new rules will include clothing, perfume companies, celebrity magazines and companies that sell underwear who may have to change the way they promote their products.
The changes follow recommendations made in May by Christian charity the Mothers’ Union and will affect all types of outdoor adverts from static billboards to outdoor digital signage and those adverts located in public buildings such as airports, train stations and subways.
Critics of the new rules suggest that as children are just as exposed to other forms of media such as the internet and TV, restricting outdoor advertising is not only ineffective at reducing the sexualisation of children, but unfairly discriminates against outdoor advertisers
Provocative imagery has long been utilised by outdoor advertisers, but what is and what isn’t acceptable varies from country to country. In Eastern Europe, naked forms are a common sight on outdoor advertisements, while conservative countries such as the Middle East prohibit any imagery that is perceived as sexual.