Editorial: A united front will prove that adland is serious

If anybody in adland harbours doubts about the merits of an industry-funded campaign to promote what's good about advertising, the "Go to work on an egg" ad ban fiasco will have gone a long way to allay them.

If it carries on like this, the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre will stand accused of sacrificing its credibility on the altar of political correctness. Not least because it follows an equally absurd furore about the banning of full-fat milk ads during children's programming.

Eggs? Milk? It makes you wonder what other staple foods will face a TV ad ban as a result of some spurious claim that they are helping thicken Britain's collective waistline.

This isn't entirely the BACC's fault. The new Ofcom rules on food advertising, drawn up far too hastily, have left the TV watchdog with little room to wriggle.

Ultimately, the Government must shoulder the blame for this farce. Ministers have too easily had their ears bent by lobby groups with hidden agendas. Ofcom has been under pressure because advertising is seen as a "quick fix" to an obesity problem, whose causes are many and complex.

But is the tide turning? Politicians who have always taken the view that there are no votes to be lost by bashing advertising may have to think again. A new poll by Associated Newspapers among "Middle Englanders" finds seven out of ten people don't believe further ad restrictions will reduce obesity. And only a few blame advertising as the main cause. This is encouraging for the Advertising Association as it considers whether or not to call upon its membership to back a campaign promoting advertising as a force for good.

Peta Buscombe, the AA's chief executive, says the idea is only at an early stage. Agencies would need to donate their time, media owners their space and advertisers a major amount of money for it to have any chance of success.

The failure to unite behind a common cause has allowed the anti-advertising lobbyists to have it too much their own way. A co-ordinated campaign would be an ideal sign of adland's collective resolve to do something about that.