The news broke last week that adverts promoting cosmetic procedures to under-18-year-olds have been banned in the UK. And that got us thinking… Is blacklisting the best way to eliminate controversial campaigns?
According to The Guardian, adverts promoting “breast enlargement, nose jobs and liposuction at under-18s” are included in the crackdown, which was orchestrated by the UK advertising watchdog.
Where won’t they be?
The new rules, which come into force from May 2022, bar these ads from appearing on all media outlets, from Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, to billboards, posters, and newspapers. Magazines and radio are also subject to this new legislation, and influencers don’t get off scot-free either – they can no longer advertise to young, impressionable audiences.
Why has this happened?
Over the last ten years, the rise of social media, reality TV shows and the ‘influencer’ have led to more and more of us striving to achieve unattainable physiques, looks, and even new personality traits.
The saying ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ is quite apt here, and, sadly, many of the companies and individuals advertising these products and procedures have, in some cases, taken advantage of their younger audiences.
Arguably, we’ve all become a lot more impressionable throughout the pandemic because all we’ve been able to do is scroll and chat online. We’ve spent time looking into other people’s lives, routines, and health and fitness regimes on the socials to distract ourselves from the external circumstances, like the pandemic.
Has anything else changed?
Yes. Not only are companies unable to advertise their cosmetic procedures, but private doctors also aren’t allowed to practice them either. If they continue carrying out cosmetic operations to under-18s, they’re at risk of going to jail and paying fines.
Is this the first time this has happened?
This isn’t the first-time adverts and marketing campaigns have gotten out of hand. First, it was tobacco companies with the Tobacco Advertising & Promotion Act 2002 that prohibited tobacco products from advertising and sponsorship, and then more recently fast food and ‘junk food’ industries have been told to put a muzzle on their television and online advertising campaigns after 9 pm starting from 2023.
By implementing this latest ban, the UK government hopes it can reduce the obesity crisis and lower the number of people eating late in the day. The online aspect of the ban affects all aspects of paid online marketing, such as Facebook ads and promotions on Instagram.
Are bans like these a good idea?
Yes, I think so. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some great campaigns in the past connected with food, cars, and even cigars and makeup. But, in the olden days, once you switched off the television or radio, they were gone. Now, they make their way into our inboxes, social media direct messages, and into our SMS messages.
These bans will prevent younger people from being too heavily influenced by their idols and feeling under pressure to purchase a product, or undergo a potentially costly and unnecessary procedure, to be relevant or to ‘fit in’.