The advertising industry risks losing its self-regulatory status unless
agencies and advertisers cease flouting advertising codes, the
Advertising Standards Authority’s chairman warned this week.
And in a broadside to those agencies that have broken the codes in the
past, Lord Rodgers suggested that advertisers decline to do business
‘In considering pitches from agencies, advertisers would do well to ask
the degree to which the agencies in question have fallen foul - if they
have done so - of the codes and whether, indeed, they regularly check
their copy against them,’ he said.
Speaking at the Advertising Association Seminar on Self- Regulation
1995-2000, Rodgers attacked those advertising agencies that have gained
a reputation for deliberately going out to flout the codes merely to
He also pointed to the increasingly unclear question of what constitutes
taste and decency, suggesting that agencies should err on the side of
caution. Saatchi and Saatchi’s campaign for Club 18-30 was deemed
unacceptable to the ASA, he said, yet the agency’s ‘Morgasms’ campaign
for Playboy TV was not.
But he warned that the more the advertising industry stretches the
rules, and the more it questions the ASA’s judgment, the more likely it
will be to find itself ruled by outside forces.
‘If the industry were to play games with the system of self- regulation,
to seek to outwit the ASA or to vexatiously appeal against its
decisions, that would be a sure formula for opening the door to
statutory regulation,’ he said.
‘Some may deliberately break the codes for publicity purposes, then
afterwards try to rubbish or ridicule the ASA in a show of cheap, macho
aggression. This is not playing games. It is playing with fire,’ he