The advertising industry is heading off any threats to
self-regulation from the Government by stepping up its efforts to curb
companies that flout its rules persistently.
At a meeting this week with senior industry representatives, Nigel
Griffiths, the new consumer affairs minister, made it clear he is
willing to let the industry continue policing itself unhindered. But he
is also determined that it should not become complacent and reiterated
that rogue advertisers must be brought to heel.
At the meeting, Andrew Brown, the director-general of the Advertising
Association, his deputy, Lionel Stanbrook, and Matti Alderson, the
director-general of the Advertising Standards Authority, all pledged
their determination to take action.
Of particular concern are small-budget advertisers that run deliberately
tasteless campaigns to ’milk’ the resulting editorial coverage.
They are also worried about small companies operating in the health and
beauty sector offering cures for conditions such as baldness and
Industry bodies are expected to argue strongly against any Government
moves to fine offenders. They said small fines would be ineffective
because advertisers could build them into marketing budgets, while big
fines would turn self-regulation into a quasi-judicial system.
Instead, the industry is expected to lobby strongly for tougher action
against persistent offenders from the Office of Fair Trading.
Meanwhile, industry leaders have urged Griffiths to avoid so-called
’gold-plating’ of the EU directives on broadcasting, comparative
advertising, distance selling and data protection, which would allow the
Government to toughen the minimal rules approved by Brussels.