Insights Committees of Advertising Practice launch call for evidence on body image and advertising


CAP and BCAP have launched the call for evidence to assist in their regulation of advertising which gives rise to potential harms relating to body image concerns.

The Committees say that the protection of consumers against potential harms arising from advertising is at the heart of CAP and BCAP’s regulation, and this includes the protection against potential body image related harms from advertising. The UK Advertising Codes already offer several protections that are intended to mitigate such potential harms.

In launching this call for evidence, CAP and BCAP are seeking an up-to-date understanding of the current situation surrounding potential body image related harms from advertising and the potential detrimental impact of those harms on consumers. In particular, CAP and BCAP welcome evidence that updates and improves their understanding of the following areas:

  • types and themes of ad content that give rise to body image concerns;
  • impact of advertising on self-perception of body image experienced by different audience groups;
  • impact of social media advertising, including influencer marketing, on body image concerns, in light of increased online media use;
  • the potential impact of advertising content in specific product sectors (for example, cosmetic interventions, weight control and reduction, beauty and cosmetics, etc.); and
  • the positive impact of advertising on consumers’ body image perceptions.

CAP and BCAP will evaluate the evidence they receive to understand whether there are body image harms arising from advertising that are not adequately addressed by existing rules and guidance, or their application by the ASA. CAP and BCAP will publish its analysis, together with an outline of intended action, in 2022.

The ASA has welcomed the launch of the call for evidence, saying that it too is concerned to ensure its enforcement of the existing rules is effective in addressing potential body image harms arising from advertising within its scope.

The call for evidence closes at 5pm on 13 January 2022. To read the Committees’ press release in full and for a link to the call for evidence, click here. To read the ASA’s blog post, click here.