Every parent does it. Sits down for a minute with our kids to watch Phineas and Ferb and we look up and a half hour has gone by. Marketers know this can be a great time to capture our attention and affection when we are relaxing with our kids. But CARU recently reminds us that if the entertainment is child-directed, some products just can’t be advertised.
PharmaCare US advertised its Kids Smart Hi DHA-Omega Fish Oil supplement during an episode of GI Joe Renegades. The ad was clearly talking to parents as it featured Soleil Moon-Frye, actress turned super mom, recommending the brain-friendly supplement. The vitamin looks like a red gummy candy. CARU said notwithstanding that PharmaCare intended to target 25-40-year-old moms and the substantiation provided by PharmaCare, the Guidelines prohibit advertising products that pose a safety risk to kids on programming directed to a child audience. Here the dietary supplements could pose such a risk if found in the house, mistaken as candy and ingested in large amounts. CARU recommended not advertising dietary supplements on kid tv.
A second case involved a banner ad and webpages on the scholastic.com website for Pedia-Lax, a children’s laxative. The ad included a disclosure that read “parent ad”. CARU took a hard line that any product labeled “Keep out of reach of children” should not be advertised on children’s portions of the Scholastic website. Scholastic similarly said the ad was directed to parents and highlighted that most visitors to its website are there to purchase books for their kids. CARU recommended removing this ad from the family portion of the website. The decision was interesting in that it did not respond to Scholastic’s argument that it was not the advertiser but the web host. It will be interesting to see if CARU pursues more cases against a website rather than the advertiser paying to place the ads. It does appear that CARU would not find the ads inappropriate on some portions of the Scholastic website but just not the children or family portions.
And so these cases serve as a reminder that advertisers need to find ways to reach parents other than through programming or websites they might watch or visit with their kids for products that can be a danger to kids if misused.