Mayor in crackdown on body image advertisements on the TfL network

13 June 2016

Mayor in crackdown on body image ads on the TfL network

  • The Mayor of London takes action on his pledge to ban unhealthy body image ads across the TfL network
  • Revised TfL advertising policy will apply to all new ads submitted to TfL
  • Advertising Steering Group to be established to ensure ads are fit for London

The Mayor of London today took action on a pledge made during his election campaign to ban advertisements that could pressurise people to conform to unhealthy or unrealistic body images.

From next month, TfL will not allow ads which could reasonably be seen as likely to cause pressure to conform to an unrealistic or unhealthy body shape, or as likely to create body confidence issues, particularly among young people.

The Mayor has also asked TfL to establish an Advertising Steering Group including its advertising partners (Exterion Media and JCDecaux) and a range of stakeholders, reflecting the full diversity of London, to monitor TfL’s approach to advertising and to keep its policy under regular review. 

TfL will continue to support great advertising and the revised policy sets out more guidance for the industry and stakeholders on the considerations it takes into account in operating its advertising estate. TfL will continue to refer campaigns to the Committee of Advertising Practice to ensure that they meet Advertising Standards Authority regulations.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “As the father of two teenage girls, I am extremely concerned about this kind of advertising which can demean people, particularly women, and make them ashamed of their bodies. It is high time it came to an end.

“Nobody should feel pressurised, while they travel on the Tube or bus, into unrealistic expectations surrounding their bodies and I want to send a clear message to the advertising industry about this.”

TfL’s advertising estate is the most valuable in the world and during the next eight and a half years it will generate more than £1.5 billion in revenue to reinvest in the transport network. The estate includes advertising space on the Tube, Overground, DLR, Victoria Coach Station, Trams, bus shelters, buses and on-street advertising. Around 12,000 advertisements appear each year.  

Graeme Craig, TfL Commercial Development Director said: “Advertising on our network is unlike TV, online and print media. Our customers cannot simply switch off or turn a page if an advertisement offends or upsets them and we have a duty to ensure the copy we carry reflects that unique environment. We want to encourage great advertising that engages people and enhances the transport network.”

TfL will also publish an annual report which will include a review of the campaigns which have run on TfL’s transport network.

Notes to editors

  • For more information, the new TfL Advertising Policy can be found here: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/business-and-commercial/commercial-opportunities/commercial-media
  • In March, TfL announced its selection of Exterion Media for a new partnership that will look after advertising spaces on trains and at over 400 TfL stations and will generate at least £1.1 billion over ten years.
  • Last August, TfL appointed JCDecaux to sell advertising space across 4,900 bus advertising shelters which will generate £300m over eight years.
  • The Mayor has asked TfL and its advertising partners Exterion Media and JCDecaux to establish an Advertising Steering Group made up of a range of stakeholders reflecting the full diversity of London to monitor TfL’s approach to advertising and to keep its policy under regular review.