Global: Are adult-specific ads ok where children might see them?
March 10th, 2023, Clifton Mark

Global: Are adult-specific ads ok where children might see them?

In many cases, societies will collectively decide that certain products or services are not suitable for children. There are rating systems for movies in markets around the world, for example, as well as restrictions on selling products such as alcohol or cigarettes or pornography to minors.

But if brands can’t sell to minors, should their advertising be allowed to reach them? Billboards and other ads in public spaces can be seen by anyone who passes. Many believe that such ads shouldn’t feature products that are unsuitable for children. To find out how many, YouGov polled 18 global markets.

YouGov data indicates that there’s a broad global agreement on this issue, with three fifths (62%) of global respondents agreeing that products unsuitable for children shouldn’t be featured in public ads. In fact, this statement commands a majority in every market polled. Chinese respondents, drawn from an urban sample, are most likely to agree at 70%, followed by Poland (69%), France (67%) and Indonesia (68%). At the other end of the spectrum, Americans are the most permissive, with only 56% agreeing that public ads shouldn’t feature adult-specific products, followed by Italy (57%), Germany (57%) and India (58%). While there are significant differences between markets, they aren’t huge, with majorities in agreement ranging between 56% (US) and 70% (China).

When respondents are sorted by age-group, there is only slightly more variation. Those chronologically nearest childhood (18-24-year-olds) are least likely of all age groups to say that products unsuitable for children should not appear in public advertising but, still, a slight majority of them globally (52%) agree. Disapproval of such ads rises with age, with 68% of the oldest age group (55+) agreeing.

Advertising adult-specific products may be necessary but, in most global markets, such ads are unwelcome in public spaces. Still, opinions may vary depending on exactly which products are in question. Most global markets have some form of restrictions on advertising for tobacco to minors. However, other products such as medications appropriate for adults or car insurance, for example, may not provoke as much disapproval.

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Methodology:YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 18 markets with sample sizes varying between 514 and 2,023 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in October 2022. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

Photo by Bram Naus on Unsplash