The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood has filed a complaint to the Consumer Protection Agency against an advert made by the beverage and yoghurt company, Juhayna, on the grounds that it "exploits children and disregards their moral and health rights". This marks the second time in less than a month Juhayna's current series of adverts have been taken to the agency.
The Juhayna advert depicts a short dialogue between four toddlers in pushchairs — three boys and a girl. In the short sketch, two of the boys express their admiration for the girl's beauty using vulgar and precocious expressions.
"The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood believes in the necessity of upholding and instilling moral values in our children and young people," Council Secretary General, Hala Abu Ali, said in a statement Wednesday.
"In the framework of the [council's efforts] to identify television programs and advertisements which do not keep the best interests of children at heart, we have submitted a request for the removal of the [Juhayna] advert, which exploits children of an early age to enact a dialogue that is inappropriate," the statement read.
"The advert encourages sexual harassment at a time when our national institutions and NGOs are endeavoring to confront the phenomenon by raising awareness among children and young people. The danger lies in the influence of such adverts on children, who are impressionable and imitate their peers [on TV], causing potentially damage to children's behavior and violating Child Law No. 126 of 2008."
The council called on the head of the Consumer Protection Agency, Atef Yacoub, to ban the commercial and any other adverts that are not social responsible, said Abu Ali. She called for further regulations on the use of children in TV advertisements.
Abu Ali also called on marketing officials and commercial producers to take seriously the question of social responsibility, especially regarding adverts that depict children. She demanded that producers do not exploit the innocence of children or resort to inappropriate dialogue or sexual innuendo that may encourage young people to adopt poor behavior.
Abu Ali warned that Article 89 of the Child Law prohibits the publication, display, or circulation of any material of a sexual nature relating to children.
Television advertisements produced by several Egyptian companies — including another advert from the same series of toddler-themed scenes from Juhayna — were banned from broadcast ten days ago due to inappropriate or misleading content.
The Consumer Protection Agency issued a decree to suspend the broadcasting of adverts for products by Al-Ahram drinks (Birell), Cottonil, Dice and Juhayna on the grounds of "violating traditional Egyptian values and flouting respectful conduct".
In a Consumer Protection Agency statement published at the time, Yacoub said that the agency had received a great deal of complaints regarding the adverts, upon which the material was reviewed. Four adverts were found to violate consumer protection law 67, issued in 2006, which states that adverts must respect religious values, social norms and the personal dignity of consumers.
Concerning the first offending Juhayna advert, the board objected to what it considered to be overt sexual references thinly disguised by clever wording. Not only this, but the advert depicted children in a way that violated advertising regulations, said Yacoub. In addition, it was judged that the advert presented Juhayna’s products in a dishonest way, claiming that the milk produced by the company was more nutritious than breast milk.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm