Companies that persistently flout advertising rules could be driven
out of business under a Labour government.
In a move to bolster the self-regulatory system, Labour may follow an
expected victory at the polls by compelling all marketing services
companies to join a professional association such as the Institute of
Practitioners in Advertising or the Institute of Sales Promotion.
A company that continues to ignore rulings by the Advertising Standards
Authority would face the threat of expulsion from trade bodies and be
forced to stop trading.
The proposal was outlined by Nigel Griffiths, Labour’s consumer affairs
spokesman, at a meeting with Sue Short, the ISP’s secretary-general, and
Nick Wells, the institute’s chairman.
Griffiths supports self-regulation over statutory controls of
advertising but wants to curb the activities of what he calls ’serial
The ASA has had problems with a hard core of companies - mostly direct
marketers - that cannot be brought into line either through adverse
publicity or media sanctions. ’There will always be unscrupulous
operators who ride roughshod over the codes,’ Wells admitted. Griffiths
first raised the issue of giving the regulatory bodies more teeth, such
as the power to fine rogue advertisers, in Campaign last autumn
(Campaign, 11 October 1996).
But Caroline Crawford, the ASA’s public affairs director, warned that
the latest plan could let in statutory regulation through the back
’The effect would be to enforce what are supposed to be voluntary
restrictions through statutory control,’ she said. ’If trade bodies are
forced to take every cowboy operator, professional standards are bound
to be lowered and client confidence will be affected.’
The IPA is also fearful that Labour’s plan would force it to relax the
high entry standards it demands of potential members.