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AANA bans “unrealistic or unattainable” body image in advertising


AANA bans “unrealistic or unattainable” body image in advertising


The AANA has updated its Code of Ethics to prohibit the portrayal of “unrealistic or unattainable” body image in advertising materials.

The Australian Association of National Advertisers’ (AANA) has administered an update to Section 2.6 of its Code of Ethics (the Code), prohibiting marketing communications that include images of body types which are “contrary to prevailing community standards on health and safety.”

The update introduces new restrictions around the models used in advertising. Content “must not provide an unrealistic ideal body image by portraying body shapes or features that are unrealistic or unattainable through healthy practices.”

Where an advertisement (or influencer post) seems to create an unrealistic ideal body image, the Community Panel deems that the advertisement “cause pressure to conform to a body shape that is unrealistic or unattainable through healthy practices.”

With more advertisers employing social media influencers, the AANA says the update will ensure advertisers are not associated with unrealistic body image standards.

AANA director of policy and regulatory affairs Simone Brandon comments, “We know from our Advertising Sentiment Index research that body image in advertising is a community concern and the AANA is committed to ensuring that advertising does not exacerbate the problem, by setting a standard that advertising must not promote an unrealistic body image.”

The new rules define unrealistic or unattainable body image portrayal as: “where the theme, visuals or language used in the advertisement imply that a body shape, or feature, of the kind depicted (e.g. very thin or very muscular) is required to use the product or service or to participate in an activity associated with the product or service.”

The Code explicitly does not prohibit the post-production, alteration or digital enhancement of an image –  whether it contains a model or not. The advertisement may breach the Code, however, if the alteration to a model’s body is made to unrealistic extent.

“It’s great that the AANA has come out with these new provisions,” comments influencer marketing agency Hypetap co-CEO and co-founder Detch Singh.

“It’s business as usual on our influencer campaigns, where we utilise data-driven insights and AI to focus on alignment of influencers and brands. In doing this we heavily favour values, narratives and content that speak to more than body types.

“Injecting real conversations into communities delivers better results for advertisers. The success of an influencer campaign is built around utilising not only a mix of body types, but also genders, sexualities, nationalities and subcultures.

“In the absence of data, advertisers make the mistake of relying on stereotypes. However, one-size-fits-all strategies often alienate audiences as they don’t take into account Australia’s diverse identity.”


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Image credit:Stas Svechnikov

Josh Loh

Josh Loh is assistant editor at MarketingMag.com.au

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