Countdown to our 50th anniversary: 1987 – 1988
4 September 2012
1987 saw BBC weather forecaster Michael Fish assure the viewing public that there wouldn’t be a hurricane, subsequently the south-east of England was battered by the worst storm in centuries.
At the ASA, we were celebrating our Silver jubilee. In a prescient bit of future gazing, our then Chairman Lord McGregor commented “I am confident that the ASA will celebrate the next jubilee in 2012 with its independence ensured and its authority enhanced.” Indeed, my Lord.
As he looked back on 25 years of achievement Lord McGregor chose to emphasise what the ASA is actually here to do. It is worth recording here:
“The Authority’s aim is to set standards rather than to secure convictions, to persuade not to coerce, to prevent not to prosecute.”
Moreover, he pointed to the importance of the ad industry being at the heart of what we do.
“The success of this self-regulatory system rests upon the determination of the advertising industry to impose a discipline of restraint upon itself for which it has the indispensable backing of advertisers, advertising agencies and the print media which will not publish advertisements declared in breach of the British Code of Advertising Practice.”
A crucial development in arming the ASA with more persuasive means of encouraging advertisers to adhere to the rules came in the form of the European Community’s Directive on Misleading Advertising. We welcomed these Regulations “as providing a long-awaited statutory back-up to our work.”
Despite our Jubilee celebrations we were still keeping a close eye on two areas of particular concern – alcohol and weapons advertising (happily they were not being promoted together).
Alcohol ads had come under heavy criticism by pressure groups who expressed concerns to Government “at the social implications of the abuse of alcohol”. Demonstrating the self-regulatory system’s long-held commitment to respond to public concern and ensuring the rules afford suitable protection to consumers, the CAP Committee redrafted the alcohol code “with particular emphasis on avoiding subject matter which could appeal to the young.”
Meanwhile, it appears that weapons “particularly those offered by mail order” had become a “matter of ministerial concern”. Indeed, the Home Office asked the ASA and CAP to “discuss with its media members its anxiety about this area of advertising.”
Lastly, we outlined the level of general enquiries we were receiving from the public, in particular the demand for ASA speakers to go forth and explain our work. Clearly our reputation for delivering excellent presentations was spreading far and wide as we noted:
“The year's most unusual request came from Lagos in Nigeria asking for a lecturer to talk on the British system of advertisement control.”
Surely, a great excuse for an ASA Exec to hop on a flight to Nigeria? Alas, we appear to have had someone suitably frugal in charge of finances:
“We were able to offer on loan a free video, thus saving both us and our correspondent a great deal of money!”
Read the 1987 Annual report here.