We think the ASA is a great place to work! However, don’t just take our word for it. In our recent employee survey which 97% of our employees took part in, a whopping 90% of our staff said they ‘believe their work is important and valued by the ASA’, and 82% said they were ‘proud to tell people’ that they work for the ASA.
You can find out what it’s like to work at the ASA for yourself below from some of our employees who work in our Complaints, Investigations, Copy Advice, Compliance and Communications teams.
If you want a fast-paced working environment in which you’ll cover a full range of advertising products and services, whilst communicating with members of the public and advertisers, the Complaints team is the place to be. You could be negotiating an amendment for a misleading claim made on an advertiser’s website, or you might be assessing whether or not a TV ad is offensive or has been scheduled appropriately. You’ll look into subjects that you’d never even considered before and have great fun doing it.
As well as managing your own caseload, with experience you’ll also have the opportunity to take on a specialism in a specific sector, such as alcohol or gambling. You might also participate in working groups or contribute to project work which helps the ASA understand what matters to consumers, society and industry. No two days are the same. You’ll develop a range of skills and tackle new challenges in the Complaints team, gaining a solid understanding of the ground rules of advertising regulation along the way.
If we decide that a complaint merits further investigation, it is the Investigations Executive’s job to contact the advertiser and explain to them the details of the complaint and what we need from them in response. That may include evidence to support their claims, or an explanation of why they think the ad is acceptable under the specific Code rules we have raised. In many cases, the advertiser is willing to work with us to amend advertising, and so we are often able to resolve cases informally if they give us an assurance that they will make certain changes. If an advertiser wants to defend their ad or if we think an informal resolution is not an appropriate solution in that particular case, then we require a formal written response to the complaint.
Much of the Investigation Executive’s time is taken up with assessing these responses, which can involve a large amount of technical evidence. We then write a recommendation to the ASA Council on whether or not the complaint should be upheld based on the requirements of the Code and previous decisions on similar issues. Communication is an important part of the job as we need to ensure we have all the information we need to properly assess a complaint and keep the different stakeholders up to date. We also often have to consult with colleagues with different areas of expertise as well as other regulatory and industry bodies. The role offers a lot of variety in terms of the types of advertisers you will deal with, and requires strong organisation skills to balance administration of the more frequent and easily-resolved queries with the in-depth analytical work of formally investigated cases.
As Executives become more confident in their case-handling they tend to combine it with proactive project work, focussing on broader advertising issues rather than individual complaints about specific ads. This creates different kinds of problem-solving and organisational challenges and provides even greater variety to the role.
The best thing about Copy Advice is that no two days are the same. We spend a lot of our time giving one-to-one bespoke advice to advertisers, agencies, and media owners about whether non-broadcast ads are likely to breach the CAP Code. One moment we could be assessing a poster to decide if it is too sexy to appear at a bus stop; and the next, we might be advising on whether an advertiser is able to make health claims for a new food product. We aim to respond to everyone within 24 hours, so we need to be able to think on our feet and stay cool under pressure! Another aspect of our role is writing guidance and providing training to help the industry understand how the CAP Code is interpreted by the ASA – this allows us to help many more advertisers ensure their ads are compliant.
I get to work with people in all areas of our organisation, discussing issues raised by members of the public with colleagues who deal with incoming complaints, working with the Investigations team to decide how to best deal with advertisers who can’t or won’t comply with the rules and working with the Communications team to make sure we’re publicising the work we do.
Most of us in Compliance specialise in particular sectors and there are opportunities to build up expertise, like getting out to meet advertisers, working with trade bodies and other regulators.
The role allows a good deal of autonomy and opportunities to look for ways to, for example, improve compliance with our Codes, increase awareness of CAP and the services we offer, and develop sanctions which ensure we’re an effective regulator.
The ASA/CAP strength lies in its staff: my colleagues are supportive, friendly and always keen to share the wealth of experience and knowledge which exists across the company.
Life in the Communications team is as varied, interesting and dynamic as the advertising industry the ASA regulates. There’s never a dull moment. Debates about advertising and its impact on society play out in the national media and come under regular scrutiny from government, lobby groups and consumer protection bodies. Whether we’re responding to concerns about the impact of advertising on young people, defending the strength of the rules and our work or developing new policies and introducing tighter rules to enhance consumer protections, our team plays an important role in communicating who we are, what we do and why.
By raising awareness of the strict advertising rules and the effectiveness of our work in keeping standards high we aim to reassure consumers that advertising in the UK, across media, is responsible and that where it breaks the rules we’ll take action. We also work to ensure that the advertising industry is aware of the rules and knows where to go to get help and advice in getting its ads right.
As a team we work closely together on a range of announcements, publications, events, research, media relations, public affairs activity and of course ASA’s own advertising campaigns. We’re responsible for the upkeep of our public facing website, delivery of our weekly rulings, coordinating our e-newsletter delivery for industry, signposting our training and advice resources, generating our Annual Report and marketing materials. Every day is different and there’s always a new, interesting and often high profile challenge to meet. Advertising gets people talking and, as a team, we get to enjoy being part of and shaping the debate.
If you like what you see, we hope that you'll join us where you can look forward to a friendly welcome from a great bunch of people who are dedicated to their work. Please visit our vacancies section for details of our current vacancies.