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Marketing and advertising

ICC provides guidance on the ever-changing landscape of modern marketing and advertising issues, promoting effective self-regulation that is harmonized to best practice around the world.

Why self regulation in Marketing? 

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) supports self-regulation in marketing and advertising because it helps gain the trust of consumers and keeps the market lively and open to new ideas. This approach means that businesses in the advertising, marketing, and media sectors agree to follow their own set of rules and standards. These standards are more stringent than what the law requires.

By committing to truthful, lawful, decent, and honest advertising, businesses build a stronger relationship with consumers.

The practice of self-regulation began in 1937 and has been adopted in over 35 countries. The Consolidated ICC Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice is seen as the leading model for self-regulation. It has laid the foundation for many of the self-regulatory systems we see today.

The ICC codes are kept up-to-date and relevant by being flexible enough to work with different local laws and cultures. They are also regularly revised to keep up with new technologies and ways of doing business. The development of these codes involves a lot of input from industry professionals and experts both within and outside of the ICC, ensuring broad support and agreement.

Digital Marketing Communication


The digital media landscape is changing quickly, mainly due to new technology.

This change has led to a significant increase in digital advertising.

A growing concern in digital advertising is how businesses use Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) to create personalized ads for internet users. This raises questions about consumer privacy and the protection of personal data, which are crucial for responsible advertising practices.

The ICC's Code for Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice addresses these concerns by setting the first worldwide rules for OBA. These rules aim to protect consumers and encourage businesses to maintain high ethical standards.

They include:

  • Making it easy for consumers to opt out of data collection for advertising.

  • Clearly stating when a social network site is commercial and controlled by advertisers.

  • Only sending direct marketing messages when it's likely the consumer will be interested.

  • Following acceptable commercial practices on social networks and only posting marketing messages where allowed.

  • Giving extra protection to children

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What is Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA)? 

Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) is when businesses collect information about a person's online actions over time, using one device across many different websites. They do this to show ads that match the person's interests and preferences.

IC) code offers guidance for website operators and others on how to properly use OBA, which includes:

  • Giving clear and obvious information about if and how OBA data is collected, including what kind of data is gathered and why.

  • Providing a simple way for people to control whether their data is collected and used for OBA.

  • Requiring clear permission from consumers before collecting and using their data through methods that track their visits across many websites.

  • Asking for clear permission before using sensitive information to create targeted advertising groups.

  • Keeping strong security measures to protect the data collected.

  • Not creating advertising groups aimed at children under 13 years old.

Additionally, the ICC organizes experts to discuss new challenges brought by digital marketing methods or platforms. This helps provide advice and viewpoints to those making policies on a global level.

One of these groups, the Working Group on Digital Media, has created a Resource Guide to go along with the global principles on OBA outlined in the Code. This guide serves as a helpful tool for self-regulating OBA.

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Marketing's Response to
Eco-Friendly Demands

As the world becomes more concerned about environmental issues, people are asking for clearer information on how products affect the environment. Businesses are responding by trying to lessen their environmental impact, recognizing that this matters more to consumers now.

However, there have been complaints about companies exaggerating or falsely presenting their products' environmental benefits or their own green practices. This practice, known as "greenwashing," involves making vague or misleading claims about a product's eco-friendliness. It can damage trust among consumers and unfairly disadvantage companies that are genuinely committed to honest and non-deceptive advertising.

To address this issue, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has created a global Framework for Responsible Environmental Marketing Communications. This framework is designed to help businesses navigate the complex world of green marketing claims. It covers a range of claims, from general sustainability to specific ones like climate impact, recyclability, and degradability.

The framework provides a more detailed interpretation of the environmental claims section of the general code and includes a checklist. This checklist helps marketers and their agencies review their claims to ensure they are honest and socially responsible, thereby maintaining consumer trust.

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Tailoring Marketing to Children Carefully

Marketing plays a crucial role in informing consumers, including children, about products and services, contributing to economic growth. ICC Code emphasizes that all marketing should be legal, decent, honest, and truthful, especially considering how messages are understood by children.

Children, being adept with media and technology, have access to a variety of marketing channels and content. However, their lack of experience in evaluating information makes them susceptible to misleading or inappropriate content. Recognizing this, ICC underscores the importance of marketers being extra careful when communicating with children and teenagers, treating them as distinct groups with specific needs and understanding levels. ICC defines "children" as those 12 and under, and "teens" or "young people" as those aged 13 to 18.

To promote responsible marketing to children, the ICC's Consolidated Code provides guidelines that consider children's sensibility and society's social and cultural values.

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