Advertising directed at children |  No privileges in the metaverse

Advertising directed at children | No privileges in the metaverse

Gap Canada announced on Friday that it is now advertising on Roblox, a popular role-playing game platform for elementary school children. However the Consumer protection law Prohibits advertising directed at children under 13 years of age.

Gap Canada is proud to integrate Friday’s metaverse into Roblox’s online multiplayer gaming platform. The American brand has its own virtual store there where young gamers behind their avatar can enjoy a juice bar, try on outfits, take photos and do fashion shows, the statement said.

The Gap Teen online store was also very busy on Friday night, during the visit of Press.

PRESS SCREENSHOT

The avatar of our journalist surrounded by other players present at the Gap Teen store on Friday

Most kids on Roblox

Although Gap Canada announces that it wants to give “the opportunity for teenagers to discover the world of Gap”, the Roblox platform attracts the majority of children under 13 years of age with its games of adopting small animals, decorating the house and roles in this modern virtual city. Roblox Corporation also indicated in 2021 that 54% of its users were under the age of 13.

PRESS SCREENSHOT

Press was able to sign up for Roblox with 2016 as his birth year, even though the platform is supposedly designed for ages 10 and up.

Roblox is also advertised as being for ages 10+. However, it was possible to register indicating 2016 as the year of birth.

the law is clear

The Consumer protection law prohibits advertising directed at children under the age of 13 not only on television, but also on the Internet and, consequently, in the metaverse.

“The law says that any advertising for commercial purposes aimed at children under 13 years of age is prohibited,” says Alexandre Plourde, a lawyer at Option consommateurs. To determine whether the ad is directed at children under the age of 13, an evaluation of the context is made, such as when or where it appears. »

“So, an advertisement that is made on a platform where there are mainly children under the age of 13, which allows young people under the age of 13 to register directly, the lawyer continues, one would think that, effectively, it is directed at children under 13 years. »

The law makes it clear that even if an advertisement is directed at adolescents and adults or is broadcast during a viewing period intended for this older audience, it cannot be assumed that it is not intended for children.

Created in the early 1970s, the law states that a child cannot distinguish between information and promotion.

Ever since General Mills admitted breaking the law in 2009 with its cereal-inspired online game Lucky Charms, ads disguised as games have also come under scrutiny.

At the time, the food giant had to pay a meager $2,000 fine.

The fine was greater for Coca-Cola, in 2015, which had created a water fountain with the colors of the Fanta soft drink, in La Ronde. Found guilty, the multinational had to pay a fine of $27,664 to the Quebec government.

Advertising in the form of gifts is also not tolerated. Saputo’s delivery of Igor cakes to day care centers had earned him a $44,000 fine. Saputo decided to plead guilty in 2009.

PRESS SCREENSHOT

Young gamers behind their avatar can enjoy a juice bar, try on clothes, take photos and run fashion shows at the Gap virtual store.

The law applies to any trader who does business in Quebec, even if their headquarters are abroad, recalls the lawyer from Option consommateurs. “To the extent that this company, Gap, does business in Canada, advertises to persons located in Canada, promotes goods or services in Canada, it must comply with the laws that are applicable in each of the provinces. »

If a complaint is filed with the Office of Consumer Protection and it leads to an investigation, Gap could be subject to criminal prosecution and ordered to pay a fine.


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