June 1, 2023


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Primark Modifies its Advertising to Comply with Children’s Advertising Review Unit Guidelines

MCLEAN, Va., July 14, 2022/PRNewswire/ — The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), a division of BBB National Programs, has determined that Primark US Corp.’s product advertising to children failed to comply with CARU’s Advertising Guidelines, specifically a new provision, which became effective in January of this year, stating that advertising should not portray or encourage negative social stereotyping, prejudice, or discrimination. CARU recommended that the advertiser modify its gender-restrictive advertising and Primark has agreed to the modifications.   

Children's Advertising Review Unit

This case involves advertising messages on Primark children’s clothing that CARU determined to be directed to children under age 13, making them subject to CARU’s Advertising Guidelines. The Primark advertisements in question, which appeared on the Primark website, on social media, and on in-store advertising came to CARU’s attention through its routine monitoring of child-directed advertising in the marketplace.

Some representative examples of the advertised messages include:

  • Slogans on shirts advertised to girls such as “Be Kind, Be Happy,” “Kindness always wins,” “Always Perfect,” “Grateful, humble and optimistic,” and “Be good, do good.”
  • Slogans on shirts advertised to boys such as “Change the game,” “Born to win,” “Power,” “Champion,” “Total Icon,” and “Awesome Adventures.”

CARU’s inquiry assessed the messaging to children resulting from these gender-restrictive slogans. CARU found that Primark’s separate lines of messaging advertised to girls and boys created a dichotomous world of goals and attributes – those appropriate for girls and those appropriate for boys – that portrayed or encouraged negative stereotyping, prejudice, or discrimination.

Based on these findings, CARU recommended that Primark’s product advertising be modified so that the messages do not portray or encourage negative stereotyping, prejudice, or discrimination. CARU further recommended that Primark advertising be respectful of human dignity and diversity.

Primark agreed to comply with CARU’s recommendations, informing CARU that it had already begun an internal review of issues of gender, race and ethnicity, physical and intellectual disabilities, and other personal characteristics relating to its children’s clothing and campaign imagery to ensure its products, sales, and marketing efforts reflect the company’s values of inclusivity. Primark has made several changes based on CARU’s recommendations and has indicated it plans to continue improvements to how it develops, promotes, and displays its products advertised to children.  

All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.

About BBB National Programs:  BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.

About Children’s Advertising Review Unit: The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), a division of BBB National Programs and the nation’s first Safe Harbor Program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), helps companies comply with laws and guidelines that protect children from deceptive or inappropriate advertising and ensure that, in an online environment, children’s data is collected and handled responsibly. When advertising or data collection practices are misleading, inappropriate, or inconsistent with laws and guidelines, CARU seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of companies and where relevant, enforcement action.

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SOURCE BBB National Programs