Leaders of Britain’s advertising industry are planning to seize
control of the self-regulatory system and cut back the influential role
of the Advertising Standards Authority.
They want the power to revert to a strengthened Advertising Standards
Board of Finance, the ASA’s paymaster, whose executive director would
become the industry’s mouthpiece.
Andrew Brown, the Advertising Association’s director-general, along with
Nick Phillips and John Hooper, his counterparts at the Institute of
Practitioners in Advertising and the Incorporated Society of British
Advertisers, are behind the idea that could be implemented before the
end of the year.
It follows growing concern within industry trade organisations that the
ASA’s power and influence has been allowed to extend well beyond its
original remit as a regulatory body.
While ASBOF and the Committee of Advertising Practice, which sets the
advertising rules, are virtually anonymous, the ASA has moved
increasingly into the spotlight. It has access to Government ministers
and is usually turned to by journalists and broadcasters as the
Now industry chiefs claim the time has come to re-establish their
authority over the self-regulatory system in the face of potential
threats from the British Government and also from Brussels.
The result would be that the ASA returns to the role originally intended
for it as the enforcer of the CAP’s codes.
’The problem is one of branding,’ an industry insider explained. ’While
the CAP will never be taken seriously because of its name, the ASA has a
sexy title. So it’s hardly surprising that this is the body the
Government wants to talk to.’
Hooper insisted the move implied no criticism of the ASA. ’It has done a
sterling job filling the vacuum we’ve created,’ he said. ’But we feel
the time has come to restore the balance. The ASA may be the bull
terrier - but we hold its lead.’
Caroline Crawford, the ASA’s communications director, said: ’This is a
matter for the industry to discuss. But we have never tried to reflect
an industry-wide view.’