The New Advertising Code of Ethics

On February 1st 2021, a number of changes to the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ (AANA) Code of Ethics came into effect, directly affecting the creation of new ads in Australia.
Read on to find out how these changes apply to you, your business and our society as a whole.


The AANA Code of Ethics applies to all advertising in Australia and aims to ensure that advertising is legal, honest, and reflects community standards.

In 2019 the AANA undertook an extensive review process with wide-ranging public consultation to ensure the Code continues to meet community standards. As part of the review the AANA commissioned the market research agency Ipsos to find out what Australians’ views are relating to the use of sexual appeal, nudity, gender stereotypes and violence in advertising.

The Ipsos research found that:

  • The majority of Australians surveyed prefer to support companies that do not objectify women.
  • It’s widely believed that advertising has become more sexually explicit. This hypersexualised advertising is seen to be particularly damaging to young girls who believe it to be an aspirational standard of beauty.
  • De-sexualisation of advertising is seen as a step in the right direction, particularly relating to its use for unrelated products.
  • A majority of people found banning negative gender stereotypes a positive step to reducing outdated gender imagery and discrimination. Two damaging stereotypes include the female ‘dumb blonde’ and the ‘incompetent dad’.
  • The community supports tighter restrictions around advertising violent video games and horror movies where children form part of the audience.


The key changes to the Code address the following issues:

  • Focusing on body parts where not relevant to the product or service being advertised.
  • Overtly sexual images in outdoor advertising or where the image is not relevant to the product or service being advertised.
  • Depictions of harmful gender stereotypes
  • Restrictions for advertising containing violent or menacing content so harmful content is not displayed where children form part of the audience.
  • The positive obligation on influencers to disclose commercial relationships in a clear, upfront manner.

Check out the new Code of Ethics and the key changes for yourself. A guide for implementation can be found in the Practice Note.

To help get your head around the changes, take a look at the AANA online training session. Members of the AANA can also claim a free training session in the new Code of Ethics for their teams.


These changes are a meaningful step in addressing issues in our society that the advertising industry has previously propagated. It’s an exciting time of change and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the evolution of advertising in Australia.


If you want to create new ads or marketing materials we can help you get great results while meeting community standards. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you!