Following criticism from consumer protection lobby and parents, the clothing chain Primark has withdrawn the sale of its range of padded bikini tops for girls as young as seven . The company apologised to customers for "causing offence" and is donating profits to a children’s charity after the Children’s Society accused Primark of "premature sexualisation and unprincipled advertising".
Failing to observe the Advertising Codes (CAP and BCAP) over sensitive issues such as the sexualisation of children can cause enormous brand damage as well as direct losses caused from having to pull advertising campaigns and, in this case, the entire product. The new Codes coming into force later this year include not only the existing principle that advertising must not cause serious or widespread offence but also a section on children under which advertisers must not cause harm. The commercialisation of childhood is a hot topic for politicians of all parties and particularly with David Cameron. Brand owners cannot risk alienating their customers, governments or consumer groups.