Countdown to our 50th anniversary: 2001
19 September 2012
The ASA’s 37th Annual Report comes from the year 2001, along with BBC sitcom ‘The Office’, Wikipedia, and Ian McEwan’s novel ‘Atonement’. It was also the year of the ASA’s 40th anniversary, with our Annual Report noting this milestone to illustrate our work over the previous 40 years.
It was the year that ASA adjudications began to be published weekly on the internet, having not even been published when we started out back in 1962! Those adjudications are still published weekly on a Wednesday, and one can even sign up to receive email alerts of ASA adjudications via our website here
Our Annual Report also notes that it was the first year the ASA upheld a complaint about an ad received by SMS text message. While the medium was at first unfamiliar, the issue we had to adjudicate on, whether or not it was clear it was a commercial message, was one for which we had 40 years’ experience. In this case, the message from a video games publisher saying “Please report to your local army recruitment centre immediately for your 2nd tour of duty”, and sent to an ex-member of the British Army was determined to be likely to cause undue fear and distress.
The year also marked the arrival of an advertising type designed to make an impact – the ‘mega poster’. Handily, this is exactly as it sounds, literally a giant poster on a side of a building trying to gain as much attention as possible.
Somewhat amazingly, the Annual Report discusses the state of tobacco advertising, which was still legal at this time; hard to imagine some five years on from the smoking ban in the UK. In 2001 all cigarette adverts, even if they did not depict a cigarette, had to be pre-approved by CAP’s Copy Advice team, although an impending statutory ban on cigarette advertising meant that wasn’t the case for long.
And finally, we also considered the requirements on competitive advertising which were contained within the Codes, designed to maintain a level playing field for businesses and ensure competition in the marketplace. While denigratory claims against other advertisers have always been unacceptable, clear and fair comparisons were, and are, permitted. The very first Code condemned the practice of “knocking copy”, when the Codes were revised two years later, they permitted “substantiated competitive complaints inviting comparison with a group of products or with other products in the same field”.
Read the 2001 Annual Report here