Heena Patel A2 Media Studies G324 Advanced portfolio/ G325 critical perspectives Advertising standards Agency (ASA) research 1. Who are the ASA?The ASA is here to make sure all advertisements are legal, decent, honest and truthful. They are independentof both the Government and the advertising industry and they are recognised by the Government, the courtsand other regulators such as the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and Ofcom as the body to deal with complaintsabout advertising. 2. What do the ASA do?The ASA’s work includes acting on and investigating complaints as well as proactively monitoring and takingaction against misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing. 3. What is the ASA’s mission?The ASAs mission is to ensure that advertising in all media is legal, decent, honest and truthful, to the benefitof consumers, business and society. 4. How is the ASA funded?The ASA is wholly funded by advertisers through a levy on advertising spend 0.1% on display advertising expenditure and airtime and; 0.2% of the Royal Mails Mailsort contract.They receive no Government funding and therefore our work is free to the tax payer.These levies are collected by two separate bodies, the Advertising Standards Board of Finance (Asbof) and theBroadcast Advertising Standards Board of Finance (Basbof). 5. What are the key principles of the Advertising codes? The Advertising Codes contain wide-ranging rules designed to ensure that advertising does not mislead, harm or offend. Ads must also be socially responsible and prepared in line with the principles of fair competition. These broad principles apply regardless of the product being advertised. In addition, the Advertising Codes contain specific rules for certain products and marketing techniques. These include rules for alcoholic drinks, health and beauty claims, children, medicines, financial products, environmental claims, gambling, direct marketing and prize promotions. These rules add an extra layer of consumer protection on top of consumer protection law and aim to ensure that UK advertising is responsible. The ASA administers the rules in the spirit as well as the letter, making it almost impossible for advertisers to find loopholes or ‘get off on a technicality’. This common sense approach takes into account the nature of the product being advertised, the media used, and the audience being targeted. 6. With regard to advertising regulation, what is pre-clearance?The Advertising Codes require that all claims must be substantiated before being published or aired.
Heena PatelBroadcast Advertising- The vast majority of TV and radio ads are pre-cleared before they are broadcast. Undertheir licenses broadcasters must take reasonable steps to ensure that the ads they broadcast are compliantwith the TV and Radio Advertising Codes.Non-broadcast Advertising-There are many millions of non-broadcast ads published every year in the UK, so itwould be impossible to pre-clear every one of them. For example there are more than 30 million pressadvertisements and 100 million pieces of direct marketing every year. 7. How many complaints do the ASA need to receive about an advert before deciding to investigate?Just one complaint can lead to an ad being withdrawn and we’ve made sure the complaints procedure is asquick and easy as possible. If we uphold a complaint about an ad, the advertiser must withdraw or amend thead and not use the advertising approach again. 8. What might make adverts controversial?The total number of complaints received in 2010 was 25,214. Of those, 96% were from members of the publicand 4% from the industry. The complaints focused on 13,074 adverts. Both figures are slightly down on lastyear. The ten most complained about adverts; 1. Paddy Power - 1,313 complaints- The television advert opens with a shot of a kit bag marked Blind Wanderers FC and two teams of blindfolded men in the middle of a game. A cat is shown running on to the pitch before a player takes a kick, followed by the sound of a thud and a loud meow. People complained it was both offensive to blind people and could encourage animal cruelty. But the ASA said it was surreal and light-hearted in tone. It decided the advert was unlikely to encourage or condone cruelty to animals or cause serious or widespread offence. 2. Marie Stopes - 1,088 complaints- Marie Stopes was accused of advertising abortion, but did not mention it in the advert. This advert offered sexual and reproductive health advice, information and services. It attracted complaints for various reasons, including that it promoted abortion. The ASA thought it was clear that the advertisers were promoting their post-conception advice service. It ruled that it was neither advocating one course of action over another, nor trivialising the dilemma of an unplanned pregnancy. In addition to the complaints detailed above, over 3,600 other objections were received, some prior to broadcast and some via petitions. 3. Department of Energy and Climate Change - 939 complaints; This advert showed a young girl being read a bedtime story by her father. As if reading a fairy-tale, a voice-over tells of the dangers of too much CO2. The story book shows black smoke rising up from an urban scene and forming a cloud of CO2 in the shape of a monster in the sky. At the end the girl turns to her father and asks: "Is there a happy ending?" The voice-over states: "Its up to us how the story ends. See what you can do. Search online for Act on CO2." People who complained thought the campaign was misleading and scaremongering. The ASA did not agree with the majority of the objections, but did uphold some complaints that claims in some of the press ads exaggerated the likelihood and impact of extreme weather conditions. 4. maritalaffair.co.uk - 420 complaints; This billboard poster for maritalaffair.co.uk showed a mans naked torso with a womens bra draped over his shoulder, next to the headline "HELLO GIRLS". It attracted complaints that it implied extra-marital affairs were acceptable and desirable. It was clear that people found the concept of the website distasteful and immoral, says the ASA. However, it says it can only consider the content of the ad and not the service being advertised. The ASA felt the ad itself was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Heena Patel 5. John Lewis- 316 complaints- The advert shows a boy hanging up a Christmas stocking on an outdoor kennel, but then leaving his dog in the wind and snow. It attracted complaints about irresponsible pet ownership. Complainants objected that it suggested it was acceptable to leave a family pet outside in cold conditions. The ASA disagreed, and felt the ad did not endorse or encourage animal cruelty or neglect. 6. Oven pride-273 complaints- Men and women complained about the gender stereotypes portrayed in this advert for oven cleaner. In it a voice-over comments "so easy even a man can do it" and ends with the line "no men were harmed in the making of this commercial". The ASA ruled the advert took a light-hearted and comical approach to its portrayal of "traditional" gender stereotypes, and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread 7. Irn-bru- 204 complaints - This advert featured cute cartoon animals, cheery music and a Pied Piper type figure. But things turned more sinister when the animals were led to a butchers shop. It already had a restriction which meant it couldnt be shown around programmes targeted at children, but the ASA still received a number of complaints that it was offensive, irresponsible and distressing to children. On balance, the authority felt the ad with its existing scheduling restriction was acceptable. 8. Cardell Media- 185 complaints- This mailing consisted of a torn magazine or newspaper page with a handwritten Post-it note, which said: "Hi, I saw this and thought youd find it useful - hes really good! J". Complainants said the mailing was masquerading as personal correspondence and challenged claims being made within it. Their complaints were upheld and the advertisers were told to change their approach. 9. Marmite-154 complaints – Continuing their "you either love it or hate it" themed campaigns, Marmite ran two television adverts parodying party political broadcasts. The Hate Party, representing marmite haters, promised to "stop the spread" of Marmite, to introduce designated "Marmite-eating" zones across the UK and enforce a compulsory label change to "Tarmite".The Love Party pledge to "spread the Love" of Marmite and promote its "delicious" taste and B vitamins. Initiatives included developing new ways for Marmite to help tackle societys issues, such as Marmite-flavoured pencils in schools to boost attendance. Some complaints related specifically to the political aspect of the campaign and these were referred to Ofcom. Other objections related to racism, denigration and offence. The ASA felt the ads were delivered in a lighthearted way and therefore were not in breach of the rules. 10. Durex- 151 complaints - Complainants, who had seen this television advert for condoms before 11am and in the early evening, objected that it was offensive and inappropriate for broadcast when young children might be watching. The ASA accepted it might not be to all viewers tastes, but because there were no explicit sexual scenes or images decided its existing scheduling restriction, which prevented it from appearing in or around programmes targeted at children, were appropriate.