Children’s Ad Rules Set for Review

NEW YORK The main industry regulator for children’s advertising has said it would hold a “complete review” of all its rules.

The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus said Monday that the review would be overseen by Joan Z. Bernstein, a former director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission and a lawyer at Bryan Cave in Washington, D.C. She will make recommendations in 90 to 120 days, a representative said.

The review will cover online games, paid product placement on TV and the use of licensed characters, among other topics, CARU said in a statement.

CARU is a voluntary body that oversees and prescreens advertising to children. Although compliance with CARU is voluntary, marketers who ignore its demands risk being referred to the FTC. The FTC in the past has paid special attention to referrals from CARU’s sister organization, the National Advertising Division of the BBB.

The review was triggered in part by the obesity epidemic, CARU stated.

“CARU intends to be a leader in the ongoing public debate regarding the relationship between childhood obesity and marketing practices. We believe the health issues confronting our children require responses from parents, schools, communities and marketers,” said Steven J. Cole, president and CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based BBB, CARU’s administrative parent.

CARU promised to listen to “all” companies engaged in marketing to children before publishing its new guidelines.