Britain’s ad industry has been mobilising in advance of this week’s
’super Thursday’ when key decisions could sound the death knell for some
of Europe’s most controversial advertising bans.
France’s Loi Evin, a law that prohibits alcohol advertising, Germany’s
limits on customer loyalty programmes and the Greek Government’s
draconian restrictions on toy advertising may all move a step closer to
being outlawed by the European Court.
The action coincides with a meeting of EU health ministers who were
expected to discuss a compromise proposal allowing Formula One motor
racing to be exempted from a Europe-wide tobacco ad ban for at least six
It is part of a possible deal allowing the sport a renewable but
temporary exemption from the regulations.
The Advertising Association has written to Jacques Santer, the European
Commission president, and to all 20 EU commissioners urging them to
support moves to reverse the French, German and Greek bans.
Attempts to quash them could be accelerated at this Thursday’s meeting
of an EU complaints committee at which lawyers are deciding whether or
not legal challenges to the bans should have the EU support that is
vital if they are to succeed.
The six-year-old Loi Evin has been a constant target of advertising
lobbyists who claim it has resulted in huge losses for the media
industry in France and the rest of Europe without any appar-ent
improvement in public health.
On the contrary, they say, alcohol consumption by French teenagers has
increased. They also cite EU figures showing that sales of own-label,
low-price strong beer have jumped by a third between 1991 and 1996.
Greek laws forbidding toy advertising on TV between 7am and 10pm have
been ineffective, critics claim.
Lionel Stanbrook, the AA’s deputy director-general, said: ’Far from
stopping US domination of children’s markets - which is what the Greeks
say they intended - children’s programming is more US-dominated than
ever before because budgets have dropped by 50 per cent.’
Meanwhile, health ministers were mooting exceptions to a total tobacco
ad ban, including publications from outside the EU, the tobacco trade
press and point-of-sale material at street kiosks.