It was great to see the announcement yesterday by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) launching new UK Advertising Codes.
One of the key changes was around the relaxing of the watershed on condom advertising.
The launch of the new codes followed a public consultation to which Brook contributed and young people working with Brook were also involved in work through the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV (SHIAG).
SHIAG challenged the guidance on condom advertising and restrictions on showing a condom out of its wrapper. The group was concerned there is still embarrassment around condoms, which inhibits the normalisation of condom use, and called for the guidance to be reviewed.
A survey carried out by young people at Brook in 2007 showed that most young people (91 per cent) were unaware that guidance exists prohibiting showing unwrapped condoms on television and many (90 per cent) thought that this was wrong. 81 per cent felt that allowing condoms and condom use to be shown in advertisements and programmes would encourage young people who were sexually active to use condoms.
In addition young people thought that condoms should be shown on TV at peak times but also that this should be scheduled sensitively and appropriately. The research found that putting information into adverts round peak-time viewing for teenagers – for instance Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Skins – or feeding it into the story line would hit the target audience and avoid offence.
Relaxing the rules around advertising condoms would normalise condom use and make young people feel more positive and confident about using them and carrying them.
Improving knowledge about contraception is key to reducing unplanned pregnancy and rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – condoms protect against both.
PJ, one of Brook’s young volunteers who was involved in the work through SHIAG, said: “It was great to be involved in the process – this is something that is aimed at and will benefit other young people so it was good to be able to input my ideas.”
The new Codes will come into force on 1 September 2010.