Ad industry defends self-regulation

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.

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

cellulite.



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.



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