The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) have today published their Annual Report 2011 which marks five decades of industry self-regulation.

The Report looks back on the key achievements of the last year and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the ASA.

2011 was a landmark year in which the industry demonstrated that, once again, it has the drive to bring responsible practice to new areas by extending the ASA’s online remit. The report also reveals that the ASA dealt with a record workload:

o 31,458 complaints about 22,397 ads
o A record 4,591 ads changed or withdrawn
o 7,195 online remit complaints about 6,631 ads
o More cases resolved informally – 3,446 compared with 1,367 the previous year – a quick and less burdensome approach to resolving complaints – for advertisers and for us.
o 97,160 occasions on which advice and training was given (a 113% increase on 2010)

To mark our 50th year, we reveal that we have dealt with around 431,000 complaints and have released our top ten most complained about ads of all time. While the number of complaints does not automatically mean an ad should be banned, they do give us a general sense of public opinion and the kinds of themes and images that might not be to everyone’s liking.

The UK advertising self-regulatory system has only been possible and made a success by the ability of industry to adapt and respond to the many changes in society as well as new advertising practices. This is reflected in the evolution of the ASA from a watchdog responsible for print ads in 1962 to the one-stop-shop for advertising across media in 2012.

Chairman of the Committee of Advertising Practice, James Best says: “The robust and effective system we have in place today is only made possible because industry understands and believes in the mutual benefits of self– and co-regulation. Its vision to create an independent watchdog in the ASA and its collaborative effort to set, develop and enforce the Advertising Codes is why we have enjoyed 50 years of consumer trust in advertising. Here’s to the next 50”.

Congratulating the ASA on its 50th anniversary Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey says: “I congratulate the Advertising Standards Authority as it celebrates its 50th year as the UK’s advertising watchdog. The advertising industry in the UK is world renowned for its creativity and innovation, but also for abiding by the rules that are designed to protect consumers. As an effective and well respected regulator, the ASA plays a crucial role in enabling responsible advertising to flourish”.

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