The Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU)
CARU, Kids & Advertising
The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), founded in 1974 to promote responsible children’s advertising, is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. CARU evaluates child-directed advertising in all media to advance truthfulness, accuracy, and consistency with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, including CARU’s guidelines, and relevant laws. CARU’s self-regulatory guidelines go beyond issues of truthfulness and accuracy to take into account the uniquely impressionable and vulnerable child audience.
When advertising is found to be misleading, inaccurate, or inconsistent with CARU’s guidelines, CARU seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of advertisers.
CARU Supporters have access to benefits and resources including:
- Advertising pre-screening and guidance from CARU staff
- Free subscription to monthly CARU case reports
- Invitation to discuss current industry issues and changes at the annual Supporters’ Council Meeting
- Special rates for members for CARU conferences and events
GUIDELINES FOR CHILDREN’S ADVERTISING
CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising provides detailed guidance to children’s advertisers on how to deal sensitively and honestly with children’s issues. These guidelines include, but go beyond, the issues of truthfulness and accuracy to take into account the uniquely impressionable and vulnerable child audience. As an extension of its initial mission, in 1996, CARU added a section to its guidelines that highlights issues, such as children’s privacy, that are unique to the Internet and online sites directed at children age 12 and under. CARU’s guidelines were updated in 2014 to reflect changes in COPPA.
MONITORING AND ENFORCEMENT
When CARU finds advertising to be misleading, inaccurate, or inconsistent with its Guidelines, or finds violations of its online privacy guidelines or COPPA, it seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of advertisers or the operators of websites and apps. The results of CARU inquiries are publicly recorded in the National Advertising Division (NAD)/CARU Case Reports. CARU also handles advertiser challenges and consumer complaints.
COPPA SAFE HARBOR PROGRAM
In 2001, CARU was approved by the FTC as the first Safe Harbor Program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Participants who adhere to CARU’s Guidelines are deemed in compliance with COPPA and essentially insulated from FTC enforcement action as long as they comply with program requirements.
CARU offers an ad pre-screening service for CARU Supporters to help advertisers spot and correct problems before ads are disseminated. CARU advises companies about advertising at all stages, including the conceptual phase, storyboards and rough cuts. CARU also reviews promotions for websites for compliance with its Guidelines as well as COPPA.
Dona J. Fraser
djfraser (at) caru.bbb.org