Labour threat to errant agencies

Companies that persistently flout advertising rules could be driven out of business under a Labour government.

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

offenders’.



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

door.



’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.



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