Confusion abounds over Britain’s system of advertising
self-regulation. So the news that its administrators are attempting to
put some order back into it is greatly to be welcomed.
It’s also timely. Some formidable challenges await and the industry will
be ill-equipped to face them unless it can show it is in proper control
of the self-regulation machine.
For one thing, there’s the Government’s pledge to incorporate the
European Convention of Human Rights into British law, making it easier
for advertisers to challenge rulings by the Advertising Standards
For another, there’s the proposed Competition Bill, raising fears that
the ASA’s codes and copy clearance procedures could be rendered unlawful
and leading to damages claims for anti-competitive behaviour.
At present, the system is out of balance. A clear chain of command
established during the 60s put the Advertising Standards Board of
Finance firmly in charge. Beneath it were two bodies of equal status:
the rule-making Committee of Advertising Practice and the ASA, set up to
implement the CAP codes and defend consumers’ interests. But while
ASBOF’s profile is non-existent, the ASA is seen as the embodiment of
the entire judicial system.
The best protection for self-regulation lies in a return to the original
status quo. A beefed-up and high-profile ASBOF must not only be seen as
the true guardian of the system but also a body that aggrieved
advertisers can turn to with confidence.
Taking the scissors to ’Mad’ Frankie
Asked to assist Campaign with its inquiries into reports that ’Mad’
Frankie Fraser, one of the nastiest living legacies of London’s gang
wars, is to appear in its first TV commercial for Campari, Mellors Reay
& Partners behaves with circumspection.
’Has the BACC approved the script?’ ’Er ... yes.’ ’And Frankie will be
in character?’ ’Er ... no. He’s an ’extra’. We just wanted him for his
face. It’s so gnarled and interesting. In fact, he may end up on the
cutting-room floor.’ ’Not an ex-gangster showing that crime pays, then?’
Frankie had a penchant for pulling out the teeth of anyone he didn’t
like with pliers. These days, he’s just a loveable old rogue. Still,
it’s nice to see the agency’s head of TV still has her kneecaps.