Australia finds itself at mercy of advertisers' morals

Even by Australian advertising's basest standards, the poster for Wild FM featuring an amputee with the announcement that "Sydney's best dance station is back on air......unfortunately" plumbed new depths of tastelessness.

Even by Australian advertising's basest standards, the poster for Wild FM featuring an amputee with the announcement that "Sydney's best dance station is back on air......unfortunately" plumbed new depths of tastelessness.

A suitable case for the country's advertising watchdogs to surf in on a tide of public revulsion to order its withdrawal, you might have thought.

Wrong. True that ads were reluctantly pulled by the station. But such is the shambles that now passes for Australia's self-regulatory system that it was under no obligation to do so.

Confusion and chaos has reigned ever since the disappearance of the country's Advertising Standards Council two years ago and its replacement by an advertiser-run body which has no power to ban ads. For consumer organisations, the ASC's replacement is no more than a toothless proctector of vested interests.

The problems began in 1966 when the ASC, which had strayed into areas beyond its remit, was disbanded after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission declared its practices anti-competitive, leaving the country without a complaints body.

Into the void stepped the Australian Federation of National Advertisers. It created the Advertising Standards Board which, unlike its predecessor, does not ban ads but persuades advertisers either to modify or pull offensive ads via letters and media publicity.

And how many ads have actually been withdrawn because of ASB pressure? Up to last month, a grand total of two.

Still smarting over the ASC's demise, Paul Toose, its former chairman, has branded the ASB a "pathetic charade" which covers only national advertising with the result that few complaints will ever be upheld.

One solution might be to send the ASB the same way as the ASC and start again. But Matti Alderson, director-general of Britain's Advertising Standards Authority, believes such drastic measures are unnecessary.

"Of course advertisers must take ultimate responsibility but the ASB can only be effective by involving agencies and media owners," she says. "And it can't just restrict itself to matters of taste and decency, ignore misleading advertising and have no powers of sanction."



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).