NEWS: Maiden starts pre-vetting posters

Maiden Outdoor is introducing pre-vetting to combat the soaring number of complaints being made about offensive posters and to head off the threat of draconian new curbs on the industry.

Maiden Outdoor is introducing pre-vetting to combat the soaring number

of complaints being made about offensive posters and to head off the

threat of draconian new curbs on the industry.



The move reflects the growing pressure on poster companies to put their

houses in order before the Government is tempted to step in.



Maiden claims to be the first contractor to introduce the measure - and

it is calling on others to unite and establish a policing committee to

block contentious posters before they appear.



Under its new rule, any advertiser who has had complaints against it

upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority in the past two years will

have to submit posters for ASA scrutiny.



The company’s initiative comes in the wake of a massive increase in the

number of protests being made to the ASA about posters. Complaints rose

by 124 per cent last year, compared with 1994 (Campaign, 5 April).



The ASA said it was alarmed by the rise and called for more pre-vetting

by contractors, a suggestion that won immediate backing from Alan

Simmons, the chairman of the outdoor specialist, Concord.



Maiden had been limiting pre-vetting to the world’s most controversial

advertiser, Benetton, whose recent poster showing three human hearts was

banned by the ASA. Now Maiden will extend the policy to all advertisers

that have received ASA reprimands.



At present, contractors are usually unaware that their sites are running

a potentially offensive campaign until the posters are on display and

the complaints begin to arrive.



Alex Ward, Maiden’s group sales director, said: ‘We’re not setting

ourselves up as judge and jury, but it’s vital we take a responsible

attitude. Posters are a very public medium and complaints can affect

relationships with our ‘landlords’, such as local authorities and

Railtrack.’



Although fewer than 1 per cent of posters cause a problem, contractors

are fearful of the disproportionate amount of publicity advertisers such

as Benetton and Club 18-30 attract when their campaigns have to be

pulled.



Maiden hopes its initiative will be a precursor to the formation of a

body comprising representatives of contractors, agencies and

advertisers, as well as independent members, to rule on controversial

poster executions. ‘It would be better if the industry as a whole was

doing this,’ Ward commented.



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