Well, since we're on a body image jag tonight ...
LONDON (AdAge.com) -- Marketers in Spain could be banned from advertising certain beauty products and services before 10 p.m., as the government attempts to stamp out the growing number of eating disorders and improve the mental health of young women fixated on their weight and appearance.
Ads for diet products, some beauty treatments and plastic surgery are now officially considered more dangerous for young people than commercials for alcohol, which can be advertised from 9 p.m.
The lower chamber of Spain's parliament has passed the law, and the upper chamber is expected to ratify it within weeks. It's unclear when the ban will go into effect.
The new law states: "Broadcasters cannot carry advertisements for things that encourage the cult of the body and have a negative impact on self-image -- such as slimming products, surgical procedures and beauty treatments -- which are based on ideas of social rejection as a result of one's physical image or that success is dependent on factors such as weight or looks."
"The ban is about product function rather than the content of the communication," said Alex Pallete, chief strategic officer at Lowe Group's Lola Madrid. "The goal is that no under-18s will be affected by mental issues like anorexia and bulimia. In Spain, people tend to go for non-surgical methods of slimming, like not eating or vomiting, but we have had a lot of immigration from Latin America, where plastic surgery is much more common, and their culture has influenced our culture."
Mr. Pallete said that in 2008, 7,000 ads were broadcast that now fall into the banned "body worship" categories. The beauty and hygiene segment is the third-biggest TV spender in Spain, accounting for $708 million in airtime in 2008.
While debating the 10 pm watershed for slimming products and plastic surgery, the government considered -- but eventually rejected -- a far more drastic ban that would have included all products advertised as "lite," potentially banning ads for a wide range of food and drinks like Coke Lite and light beer.
Mr. Pallete predicts that advertisers will follow the example of cigarettes and alcohol, maintaining their budgets but diverting the money to sponsorships, events and online. Or they may just advertise late at night...
Spain, you might recall, has been ahead of the curve, so to speak, on body image issues. In 2006, after the starvation deaths of some models in South America, it banned ultra-thin girls from the catwalks of Madrid. A year later, it got major retailers such as the international Zara chain, to agree not to use display mannequins smaller than a size 6.
Which is all well and good.
But Spanish girls have access to media from all over Europe and the rest of the world. Unless every fashion editor and designer stops pushing skeletal teenagers onto the runways and into editorial pages, anorexia, bulimia and emotional disorders will continue to plague women.
Wish this idea could spread around the world.