NEWS: Ad controls poised for radical reform

By JOHN TYLEE,, Friday, 29 November 1996 12:00AM

Britain’s self-regulatory system of advertising control is set for an overhaul after months of critical battering.

Britain’s self-regulatory system of advertising control is set for an

overhaul after months of critical battering.

With the operation and structure of the system being questioned by

several major advertisers, fears are growing that some industry bodies

will desert it unless it is changed.

Measures are almost certain to include a radical reform of the Committee

of Advertising Practice, whose declining power and influence is causing

mounting concern (Campaign, 1 November).

At the same time, pressure is growing for a restructuring of the

Advertising Standards Authority council to reflect the broad spread of

marketing disciplines, particularly below-the-line activities.

The expected reforms are likely to be high on the agenda of David

Clayton-Smith, the marketing and merchandise director of Do-It-All, who

takes over the chairmanship of CAP from Martin Runnacles, Rover’s UK

marketing director, in January.

Presiding over his final meeting as CAP chairman last week, Runnacles is

understood to have conceded that certain problems need to be addressed.

‘The writing is on the wall and, unless there is a positive response,

the future of self-regulation is bleak,’ a source close to CAP warned.

CAP has already received a report from the Direct Marketing Association

voicing concerns about the ASA and sparking speculation that the DMA

might consider breaking away to take full responsibility for policing

its own code of practice.

There is concern about how long the ASA can continue to survive legal

challenges to its procedures. It won a recent High Court appeal by City

Trading, which attempted to overturn an ASA ruling that its ads were

offensive (Campaign, 8 November). But insiders warn that other aspects

of the system, including the way the ASA hears appeals, will not stand

up to close scrutiny by judges.

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