The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), founded in 1974 to promote responsible children’s advertising, is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. Policies and procedures for CARU are developed by the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC). CARU is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
CARU, the children’s arm of the advertising industry’s self-regulation program, evaluates child-directed advertising and promotional material in all media to advance truthfulness, accuracy and consistency with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, including CARU’s guidelines, and relevant laws.
CARU’s self-regulatory guidelines are deliberately subjective, going beyond the issues of truthfulness and accuracy to take into account the uniquely impressionable and vulnerable child audience.
CARU’s basic activities are the review and evaluation of child-directed advertising in all media, and online privacy practices as they affect children. When these are found to be misleading, inaccurate, or inconsistent with CARU’s guidelines, CARU seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of advertisers.
As an extension of its initial mission, CARU in 1996 added a section to its guidelines that highlights issues, including children’s privacy, that are unique to the Internet and online sites directed at children age 12 and under. These guidelines served as the basis of the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA).
CARU has established a Safe Harbor Program for CARU supporters to help them protect the privacy of children online, and meet the requirements of COPPA and our Guidelines. CARU recognizes that the special nature and needs of a youthful audience require particular care and diligence on the part of advertisers. Consequently, CARU performs a high level of monitoring, including the scrutinizing of over ten thousand television commercials, and the review of advertisements in print, radio and online media.