Mr Price Under Fire: Ad With Child Model Deemed ‘Provocative’ by ARB

Mr Price in the docs with ARB

May 21, 2024 – Johannesburg, South Africa – The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has issued a groundbreaking ruling against Mr Price, a leading South African retail chain, in response to a consumer complaint regarding an in-store advertisement. This landmark decision, announced on May 15, 2024, underscores the ARB’s steadfast commitment to safeguarding children from inappropriate depictions in advertising.

Background of the Complaint

The complaint, filed by Natasja Oosthuizen, raised alarm over an advertisement displayed in a Mr Price store, featuring a young female child in what was deemed a sexually suggestive pose. Oosthuizen voiced her concerns, expressing discomfort with what she perceived as the objectification of a child.

ARB’s Examination and Verdict

Despite being afforded the opportunity to present a defence, Mr Price opted not to respond to the complaint. Consequently, the ARB proceeded with its evaluation, focusing on Clause 14.3 of Section II of the Code of Advertising Practice, which explicitly prohibits the sexualization of children in advertisements.

The ARB’s Directorate conducted a meticulous analysis of the advertisement in question and concluded that, while the child’s makeup was subtle and her attire modest, her pose—characterized by legs spread, hands on hips, and a pout—could be interpreted as sexually suggestive. This decision underscores the critical importance of avoiding any semblance of sexual innuendo when portraying children in advertisements, with the aim of preserving their innocence and well-being.

Implications and Directives

Though Mr Price is not affiliated with the ARB and declined to submit to its jurisdiction, the ruling holds significant implications for ARB members. The ARB has directed its members to refrain from accepting advertisements featuring the contentious image, thereby reinforcing ethical advertising standards.

This ruling against Mr Price reflects broader societal and regulatory apprehensions regarding the depiction of children in media. It underscores the responsibility borne by advertisers to ensure that advertising content adheres to ethical standards and refrains from exploiting or sexualizing minors.


The ARB’s decision serves as a poignant reminder of the paramount importance of responsible advertising, particularly concerning the portrayal of children. It emphasises the imperative for advertisers to exercise prudence and sensitivity in crafting advertisements, thereby averting any potential harm or exploitation of vulnerable audiences.

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