By JOHN TYLEE, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 05 September 1997 12:00AM
Advertising watchdogs are preparing to drop their control of
political advertising, claiming it is too much of a hot potato to be
Instead, the major political parties are being asked if they would
prefer political ads to be treated as ’propaganda’ and so fall outside
the jurisdiction of the Advertising Standards Authority.
At the same time, the Committee of Advertising Practice is considering
relaxing the rules governing the portrayal of Royal Family members in
ads when new codes are published next year.
The proposed changes have been precipitated by the controversies
surrounding the M&C Saatchi poster for the Conservatives which depicted
Tony Blair with mad, staring eyes and Young & Rubicam’s ad for Live TV,
in which Paul Gascoigne appeared to be kissing Diana, Princess of
The CAP, which determines the rules, is keen to end what it believes is
a highly unsatisfactory system, under which its control of political ads
is limited to matters of taste, decency and privacy.
But, unlike other advertisers, there is no obligation on political
parties to prove their claims to the ASA.
Now the CAP has written to political parties asking if they wish to be
fully within or outside the existing regulatory system.
But the way the parties have been approached has been criticised by some
CAP members, who believe the question is too even-handed. ’If the
parties opt to stay in the system, what the hell are we going to do?’
’We know the ASA can’t police political ads effectively. We also know
that politicians will be happy to stay within the system while they can
use it as a weapon against their opponents, but will want out as soon as
they fall foul of an ASA ruling.’
Meanwhile, the CAP is likely to recommend less draconian rules on the
use of Royal Family members in ads, arguing that they should not be
treated any differently from other famous people.
Caroline Crawford, the ASA’s communications director, said: ’No
decisions on either matter have yet been taken.’
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk