The Advertising Association is reshuffling its front line as it gears up
for the possibility of a Labour government.
The key change involves Jonathan Bullock, whose promotion from head of
external affairs to head of public affairs comes with a brief to build
and nurture links with Labour politicians.
The AA’s growing preoccupation with Labour was evident at the party’s
conference last month, where an AA reception for MPs was hosted by Lord
Hollick, the Labour peer and chief executive of United News and Media.
The AA wants to ensure Labour makes no attempt to dismantle
advertising’s self-regulatory system. AA executives have been fearful
that Labour might use recent public criticism of the system as an excuse
for statutory controls.
The AA’s message will be that the system will always upset people who
fall foul of it, but it is better than an imposed alternative.
Meanwhile, AA executives are indicating that they would not object if
Labour chose to sharpen the teeth of the Advertising Standards Authority
by giving it the power to fine offenders.
The AA will continue pressing its case with Labour against any ban on
advertising snacks and confectionery to children. It will cite recent
events, such as Carlsberg-Tetley’s withdrawal of its controversial
alcopop, Thickhead, as evidence that advertisers are prepared to act
But the AA and Labour remain poles apart on the vexed question of
tobacco promotion. Labour is committed to an above-the-line ad ban but
the AA is confident it can persuade the party not to extend controls on
tobacco sponsorship or curb tobacco companies targeting regular smokers
via direct mail.