Countdown to our 50th anniversary: 1994 - 1995
12 September 2012
1995 was a year of ambition. Dolly the sheep was born, the first cloned mammal from an adult cell. Match.com launched, giving the online dating market a huge boost in popularity, and Robbie Williams left Take That to go solo.
The ASA welcomed its new Chairman, Lord Rodgers, one of the original Gang of Four who left the Labour Party to form the SDP in 1981. Luckily, he didn’t try to break away and form a rival ASA Council, but instead opened up the job application process, for the two new Council members required that year, to the public, with over 1,000 writing in to the ASA that year saying they wished to be considered for the position.
1995 was a year of record complaint numbers – 12,804 in total, with almost one quarter relating to only ten adverts. The number of complaints about misleading adverts was down on the year before, whereas the number of complaints about decency was very much on the rise.
One of the most high profile ads to draw complaints was a poster for the film Disclosure, starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore, and featuring a couple in an … intimate embrace. The ASA considered that the ad was in keeping with the product being advertised, with a leader in the Independent supporting the judgement, writing:
“Ours is a liberal society. The price of it remaining free is that we occasionally live our outrage rather than rushing to ban what has caused us offence.”
The most complained about ad of the year was for the British Safety Council, whose ad depicting the Pope in a hard hat, along with the tagline ‘Eleventh Commandment: thou shalt always wear a condom’, received 1,192 complaints. It remains the fifth most complained about ad in the ASA’s history.
Another interesting fact from our complaint stats was that in 1995 we received one complaint about an advertisement appearing online. By 2011, that had risen 10,123 following the extension of the ASA’s online remit to companies’ marketing claims on their own websites in March 2011.
1995 also marked the launch of the first ASA website, designed to be used as a reference point for the advertising industry and consumers about how the Code is applied in practice. Meanwhile, back to the present, and the ASA and CAP are preparing for the launch of refreshed websites later this month.
Read the 1995 Annual Report here