Britain’s poster industry is clamping down on maverick advertisers
that use shock tactics to make the most of tiny budgets.
From 1 June any company found by the Advertising Standards Authority to
have produced offensive or irresponsible poster advertising will be
forced to submit its poster work for pre-vetting for the next two
The action has been taken by the Committee of Advertising Practice in
co-operation with the Outdoor Advertising Association and the Council of
Outdoor Specialists. It is aimed mainly at advertisers intent on
maximising a minimal spend by creating a controversial poster and
getting it banned in a blaze of publicity.
The ASA insists that such incidents remain rare and that 98 per cent of
poster advertisers comply with its rules. But Matti Alderson, the ASA’s
director-general, said: ’The very small numbers of advertisers who
produce posters that ignore public sensitivities cannot act with
impunity. They will be forced to think again before creating a one-shock
The initiative comes in the wake of a number of high-profile
controversies, including the banning in 1995 of Saatchi & Saatchi’s
’Beaver Espana’ ads for Club 18-30 and the furore over a Benetton poster
showing three human hearts.
The rows prompted one poster company, Maiden Outdoor, to act
unilaterally and introduce pre-vetting two years ago against advertisers
falling foul of the ASA.
Matthew Carrington, the chairman of the Outdoor Advertising Association,
said the initiative would reassure consumers, the ad industry and the
Government that the poster industry ’will not permit a handful of
offenders discrediting our medium’.