Britain’s self-regulatory system of advertising control is set for an
overhaul after months of critical battering.
With the operation and structure of the system being questioned by
several major advertisers, fears are growing that some industry bodies
will desert it unless it is changed.
Measures are almost certain to include a radical reform of the Committee
of Advertising Practice, whose declining power and influence is causing
mounting concern (Campaign, 1 November).
At the same time, pressure is growing for a restructuring of the
Advertising Standards Authority council to reflect the broad spread of
marketing disciplines, particularly below-the-line activities.
The expected reforms are likely to be high on the agenda of David
Clayton-Smith, the marketing and merchandise director of Do-It-All, who
takes over the chairmanship of CAP from Martin Runnacles, Rover’s UK
marketing director, in January.
Presiding over his final meeting as CAP chairman last week, Runnacles is
understood to have conceded that certain problems need to be addressed.
‘The writing is on the wall and, unless there is a positive response,
the future of self-regulation is bleak,’ a source close to CAP warned.
CAP has already received a report from the Direct Marketing Association
voicing concerns about the ASA and sparking speculation that the DMA
might consider breaking away to take full responsibility for policing
its own code of practice.
There is concern about how long the ASA can continue to survive legal
challenges to its procedures. It won a recent High Court appeal by City
Trading, which attempted to overturn an ASA ruling that its ads were
offensive (Campaign, 8 November). But insiders warn that other aspects
of the system, including the way the ASA hears appeals, will not stand
up to close scrutiny by judges.