Following a public consultation held in 2017, the UK’s self-regulatory advertising authority (the Advertising Standards Authority – ASA), has amended the two codes which regulate respectively non-television and television advertising (the CAP Code and the BCAP Code respectively), both administrated by the Authority, thereby introducing stricter rules prohibiting the sexual portrayal or sexual representation of under-18s, and those who appear to be under 18, in advertising.
The new CAP Code rule now stipulates that “Marketing communications must not portray or represent anyone who is, or seems to be, under 18 in a sexual way. However, this rule does not apply to marketing communications whose principal function is to promote the welfare of, or to prevent harm to, under-18s, provided any sexual portrayal or representation is not excessive.” The same principle was introduced into the BCAP Code.
In contrast, there is currently no provision within the Italian legal system to prohibit the sexual portrayal or sexual representation under-18s of the type introduced by the ASA.
However, since March 2013, Article 11 of the Code of Advertising Self-Regulation (Codice di Autodisciplina) of the Italian Institute for Advertising Self-Regulation (Istituto di Autodisciplina Pubblicitaria)- an article responsible for the protection of children and adolescents - has stated that: “Representation of behaviors or attitudes that aim to the sexualization of children, or of those who appear to be children, are prohibited”. The modification of the Italian Code of Advertising Self-Regulation was implemented to counteract the increasingly widespread phenomenon in marketing of representing children with a sexuality belonging to the adult sphere, thus normalizing behavior inappropriate to childhood.