Countdown to our 50th anniversary: 1997
13 September 2012
1997 was a year of seemingly small events with enduring and widespread legacies, including the release of James Cameron’s little nautical romp “Titanic,” the publication of J.K Rowling’s sensational first novel “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” and the release of the hotly anticipated Spice Girls Movie “Spice World”. It was also the year the ASA celebrated its 35th anniversary.
Like many 35th birthdays, ours was marred by an increasing awareness of cellulite, as the ASA became more involved in obliging advertisers of “anti-cellulite” creams to prove their claims. Following a widely-publicised series of investigations, we stated that, as much as we wanted to believe in the power of anti-cellulite cream, we had yet to see acceptable trials or any evidence showing that, massaging effects aside, the creams alone could have an effect. Bad news for 35-year olds everywhere and still true today.
More happily, 1997 brought with it some economic improvement, and the UK emerged from recession at a potentially dangerous high speed. Economic recovery meant ads for fast cars. The ASA received more complaints about speed in car ads in 1997 than in 1995 and 1996 combined, with nine ads being banned. After deliberation and consideration, the ASA Council decided that car ads should reflect the way that motorists are expected to drive: with due care and attention.
ASA research published in 1997 revealed that many advertisements purporting to alleviate asthma were misleading, and we established that a product’s ability to reduce dust could not be used as evidence that the product could reduce asthma. We also conducted research into misleading overseas mailings inviting people to enter potentially illegal foreign lotteries, and slimming pills also came under scrutiny, as the ASA asked companies to make it clear in the ads if their product had not been proven to have any slimming effect.
1997 was also the year that the ASA Council concluded that it was no longer acceptable for flight prices to be quoted exclusive of compulsory taxes and other charges payable at the point of purchase. Price advertising by airlines is still under scrutiny in 2012, with the OFT recently publishing its investigation
into their pricing practices.
Read the 1997 Annual Report here