Countdown to our 50th anniversary: 1996
13 September 2012
While Göran Kropp climbed Mount Everest alone without oxygen, after having cycled there from Sweden, in 1996 the ASA strove to overcome all obstacles and exceed previous standards in advertising self-regulation.
1996 was a year when the public grew more concerned about how, and how much, children were being exposed to violence in the media. Public reaction to violent ads, following a series of violent incidents in 1996, prompted 275 complaints to the ASA about violence in 70 ads, with the ASA requiring 22 of these ads to be withdrawn and the ASA Council holding a seminar to discuss violence in advertising.
In other news from the year, a Gossard ad asking the question “Who said a woman can’t get pleasure from something soft?” prompted numerous complaints, which increased in number following one national newspaper’s criticism of the ad. The paper encouraged readers to complain to the ASA, many of whom dilligently did so without actually having seen the ad. After careful consideration, we decided that the ad was not likely to cause serious offence, and a survey at the ASA’s consumer conference in Bath later in the year revealed that two thirds of people agreed with our decision, however the case served to highlight the fact that the ASA’s impartiality depended on it not being influenced by the press.
Following 1996’s royal divorce, an ad for Live TV depicted Diana, Princess of Wales in a wedding dress with Paul Gascoigne’s head superimposed on Prince Charles’ body, causing debate in the advertising trade press over protecting the privacy of the Royal Family, and the requirement to seek the permission of the Lord Chamberlain before using their images.
1996 also saw the introduction of advice for publications which used front page promotions. With consumers purchasing newspapers specifically because of the promised offers, only to find that the offers were subject to costs and conditions, the ASA issued guidance to such publications. Two papers, the Daily Mirror and The Times, continued to use flawed promotions and we employed one of our most serious sanctions in referring the matter to the Office of Fair Trading.
And finally, research into compliance with the Code by advertising for alcopops and the health and beauty sector was also carried out in 1996. Following a great deal of media coverage regarding the dangers of alcopops, we discovered the number of ads to be relatively low, and their content to be generally compliant with the Code. Our research into compliance by the health and beauty sector, on the other hand, revealed only a marginal improvement in compliance since the previous year, and a considerable number of complaints regarding products that claimed to restore and replenish hair.
Read the 1996 Annual Report here