Countdown to our 50th anniversary: 1993
11 September 2012
In 1993 the vacuum giant, Hoover was still clearing up the mess it had made out of its badly administered free flights promotion, while the first high speed train travelled from France to England via the Channel Tunnel.
Meanwhile, things appear to have been good – almost utopic - in our regulatory world. Our Chairman noted that, at home and abroad, we were enjoying a period of harmonious stakeholder relations, “Brussels now appears to recognise self-regulation's value. Our relations with politicians in all parties are good. So is our partnership with the Office of Fair Trading”.
But there was still work to be done. Fascinatingly, our Annual Report reveals that in 1993 cigarette advertising was drawing its last breaths. Although tobacco could still be advertised it was, by then, subject to very strict rules in the interests of public health. This led to a “widely-publicised decision to ask Imperial Tobacco to withdraw a campaign for Regal cigarettes, featuring a character called Reg”. Apparently, Reg had become “something of a cult figure among the young” which prompted us to ask Imperial Tobacco to withdraw its campaign.
We continued to explore where the line should be drawn when judging issues of taste and decency in advertising. While we accept that decisions of this nature are “bound to be in part subjective” we found it useful to explore the “perennially intricate question” to help shape our views.
The protection of young people continued to be at the forefront of our work. We “paid close attention to an increasingly lucrative market – advertising aimed at children” throughout the year, including holding a seminar debate on issues such as ‘pester power’ and ‘price-led marketing’ as well as conducting a monitoring survey of youth orientated publications.
And we also examined closely the increasingly common practice of ads ‘masquerading’ as editorial. “1993 saw, according to industry calculations, a growth of 47% in the use of what have commonly become known as 'advertorials'”. Such was our concern on this issue that the General Media Review Panel was “asked to draw up a set of guidelines”. Its conclusions?
“Advertorials are subject to the Code rules; they should always be clearly labelled; and responsibility for Code compliance rests equally with advertisers and publishers.”
Although the rules around advertorials have been in place for over 20 years, changes in technology and advertising trends show they are as relevant today as they were when they were introduced. The ASA has recently made rulings
involving the Twitter feeds of well-known footballers
to establish whether it was clear they were ads.
Read the 1993 Annual Report here