Yorshire Post Today
The advertising industry watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), will be in Yorkshire next week, canvassing public opinion on ads and how they are policed.
In 2004, the ASA received a total of 12,711 complaints about 10,062 advertisements. The most complained about sector was leisure, with 3,343 complaints which represented a quarter of the total received. National press ads generated more complaints
than any other media with 2,270 complaints followed by direct mail and then posters. More than 1,700 were formally investigated and upheld. Another 435 were investigated and not upheld, and 962 were resolved informally, which is where the advertiser
agrees to amend or withdraw their ad without the need for a formal investigation.
Since the end of last year, the ASA's remit has included the processing of complaints about radio and TV, which had previously been administered by separate bodies. By the end of this year, the volume of complaints is expected to have
risen to about 30,000, with more of them about advertising in the national press than any other medium. The ASA which carries out random checks on ads before they are broadcast or published, but relies on self-regulation and works mostly with
complaints after the event is funded to the tune of £8m by a voluntary 0.1 per cent levy on advertisements, which most agencies pay. Despite the fact that it's the ads which allegedly offend standards of taste and decency that stir up most publicity,
it's those that are perceived to make misleading claims which constitute the bulk of the complaints made to the ASA.
Present hot potatoes for the ASA include the advertising of alcohol, food, and the problems posed by marketing via new media, such as mobile phone messenging. The Government and consumer groups are pushing for a tightening of the rules surrounding
advertising of food to children, and the industry is working on changes in its code of conduct. But is the advertising industry the scapegoat for a childhood obesity problem whose causes are wider and highly complex?
In general, ASA director-general Christopher Graham says advertising is gradually becoming raunchier and consumers are becoming more knowing in how they view ads across an increasing diversity of media. The ASA uses consumer research to help in
informing its decisions, but it also holds regular public events around the country, which are open to individuals, community groups, colleges, parents and anyone else who wants to go along and air their views. Next Wednesday one of these day-long
ASA Consumer Conference will be in Leeds.
This kind of thing is an important tool in understanding public tastes and sensibilities, says Graham. Part of the day is spent in groups, looking at various ads and the many issues to be examined before a decision can
be made about whether to uphold a complaint. It's also a valuable opportunity for the public to find out more about what we do and come back at us about how we do it. We're not perfect, we know we don't always get it right, and it's important to hear
what people think. It's also important that they know we are there.
The ASA conference is to be held in the Park Plaza hotel, Leeds on Wednesday 23 November 2005. To get more details or register for the event call the ASA on 0207 492 2222, or email firstname.lastname@example.org