Close-Up: What the new ad rules will mean for advertisers

A number of industries could be affected by the forthcoming consultation on ad regulations. Campaign asked leading figures from those concerned for their thoughts.

CONDOMS / ABORTION SERVICES

- Rt Rev John Arnold, Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster

"It is questionable whether extending the reach of condom advertising will arrest the alarming increase of teenage pregnancies and the transmission of STDs among that age group.

"Contraceptives, sex education and advice on the avoidance of pregnancies and the transmission of STDs are already widely available to teenagers in this country and yet the UK continues to have the highest level of teenage pregnancies in Europe.

"The issue to address is not one of a lack of information; rather, it is an issue of culture and behaviour. The most effective way to change behaviour is to encourage a culture of family and fidelity in lifelong committed sexual relationships. Now there's a challenge for the advertising industry."

- Fiorella Nash, research officer, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

"It's giving a one-sided picture of the abortion issue. We don't have the money to retaliate, which gives us very little chance of airing our views and giving an alternative opinion.

"It's got nothing to do with helping people or raising awareness - it's an advertising technique, pure and simple. It's basically commercialising sexuality and commercialising abortion, in the same way that companies like Corn Flakes advertise their brand.

"As a parent, I don't feel I need to be provoked into talking to my kids about the dangers of having sex, so why the need for ads?"

- Spokeswoman, Marie Stopes International, provider of sexual and reproductive healthcare services

"As an organisation, we very much welcome the news that condoms are now being advertised on primetime TV. This will be especially beneficial for young people, who are bombarded with messages of underage sex in soaps and dramas on TV. So, any messages that can help them recognise that there is help out there can only be a good thing.

"Being realistic, we all know that people are going to engage in underage sex, so we need these messages to help teenagers be able to make educated decisions on how to cope with this."

CHARITIES

- Diana Tickell, director of communications, Barnardo's

"Removing this restriction will position charity advertisers on an equal footing with other advertisers. It will allow charities to better evidence our effectiveness versus other bodies if we so choose.

"However, at Barnardo's, our modest investment in TV advertising is far too precious to be used on knocking-copy on other charities."

ENVIRONMENT

- Spokesman, Greenpeace

"Greenpeace welcomes these proposals. Greenwash has been a very big problem in recent years.

"What we've found is that companies are not changing their green policies, just their messages. A company's response to climate change should be to look at how it slashes its carbon emissions, not just on how it portrays its green policies to the public."

COMPUTER GAMES

- Michael Rawlinson, director-general, Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association

"Elspa has established codes of practice in this area. The Committee of Advertising Practice and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice consultation includes a new rule that will bring games in line with the current stipulation restricting the advertising of 15- and 18-rated films around children's programmes.

"This rule has already been operating in practice in relation to games, so there is no practical change for our industry to consider, merely some obvious tidying up by the advertising bodies."

TARGETING CHILDREN UNDER 12

- Hugh Burkitt, chief executive, The Marketing Society

"It would be a bad idea if collecting data from under this age group was never allowed, especially if it's about a product or a brand, but the idea of always having parental control is definitely a good one.

"More and more companies are doing this as a matter of course anyway these days, but a specific regulation will appease parents and grown-ups and make data collection easier."

WHY THE RULES ARE CHANGING

- Andrew Marsden, chairman of the review that put forward the proposals

"This review will dictate how we operate for some time to come.

"It's been a huge undertaking given that there are currently about 2,500 rules governing advertising and more than 400 pieces of legislation affecting it.

"The most important thing about the new codes is that they must be easy to use. The old ones were clogged with guidance, some of it contradictory, which has led to people unwittingly breaking them.

"I don't see this leading to a fusion of the self-regulation and statutory systems. Our self-regulatory system is held in very high regard around the world. Preserving it is what this review is all about."

- Philip Circus, member, CAP

"When I started my involvement with CAP more than 30 years ago, nobody had a good word to say about self-regulation. All that has changed now, but, paradoxically, the new-found acceptance of self-regulation contains within it new threats to its survival.

"During the CAP Code Review, it was clear that we might end up with provisions in the Code, not because the industry wanted them, but because Ofcom had wanted them. The extension of the Advertising Standards Authority's remit to broadcast advertising in a co-regulatory framework has increased the possibility that the Government could indirectly in fluence the drafting of the CAP Code. The consultation process will also see pressure on CAP from a number of groups, many of which are government-funded and are, consciously or otherwise, advancing a government agenda.

"If self-regulation is to survive, it must be just that, ie. the industry regulating itself."

- Ian Twinn, director of public affairs, ISBA

"The alternative to self-regulation codes is state legislation. Having helped pass a good few laws in my time - as an MP and then an MEP - I cannot recommend the parliamentary process for speed in adapting to a fast-changing world, shifts in public opinion or well-informed proposals.

"That's the beauty of our system here. For non-broadcast ads, the Office of Fair Trading can step in and, for TV and radio, Ofcom has the backstop powers. Responsible advertisers understand this and value the level playing field. It did not seem right to ISBA to merge the CAP and BCAP codes. The media have different needs and specific rules, while the legal relationship with Ofcom is as a co- regulator; something most of us would not welcome for our press."

- Marina Palomba, legal director, IPA

"The recommendations incorporate user-friendliness, an overarching social responsibility rule for TV and radio, and increased consumer protection.

"The changes do not mean any merger between self- and co- regulation. In an ever-convergent media environment, it is sensible that the broadcast and non- broadcast rules are underpinned by the same principles where appropriate. We shall continue to have separate codes for valid reasons, eg. specific technological requirements."

PROPOSED RULE CHANGES

- End to the 9pm watershed on advertising condoms and abortion services.

- Ban on advertisers exaggerating environmental benefits of their products.

- Ban on ads for age-restricted computer games around TV shows appealing to children.

- Ban on marketers collecting data from under-12s without parental permission.

- Lifting of restriction on charity TV ads making comparisons with other charities, non-charitable bodies or government aid agencies.

- Possible drawing together of self-regulatory non-broadcast codes and government-regulated broadcast codes.

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