The ASA and CAP often need to make decisions in areas that are very complex and in exceptional cases we may need to take a view from industry experts to ensure our recommendations and decisions accurately reflect the realities faced by the industry we regulate. The advertising industry is central to the success of the self-regulatory system and as part of that, the ASA and CAP receive valuable support from three industry Panels.
These Panels bring together a mix of industry experts who volunteer their time to give advice on regulatory aspects of the ads we see and hear. The Panels provide an opportunity for marketers, the ASA and CAP to have advertising practitioners review an aspect of an investigation and to feed into the decision-making process. CAP may also use the Panels to help develop Advertising Guidance or make revisions to the Codes and they may, on occasion, assist the CAP Copy Advice team in advising on ads that aren’t yet in the public domain.
The ASA/CAP Executive, the parties to a complaint and Copy Advice enquirers can all request that a matter is considered by one of the Panels but the Chair of each can, and will, reject requests that suggest that the Panel is being used to hamper the effective running of the self-regulatory system.
Although consideration is given to Panel recommendations, their opinion is not binding on either the Executive or the ASA Council and the Panels will almost never consider scientific or highly specialised evidence: it leaves those matters to the relevant experts.
What Panels do we have?
The Industry Advisory Panel (IAP), which brings together marketing, media practitioners and others with expert knowledge of the UK marketing industry along with one ASA Council member. This Panel advises on both broadcast and non-broadcast matters and meets approximately six times every year, but can arrange other discussions via teleconference or email for especially important or urgent matters. It can help to interpret the Codes, whether in the context of a complex or disputed investigation or in response to a ground-breaking question to Copy Advice.
The Promotional Marketing and Direct Response Panel (PMDRP) advises only on non-broadcast promotional marketing and direct marketing matters and also meets approximately six times every year. The members of this Panel specialise in promotional and direct marketing including competitions, promotions and discount marketing.
The Online Publications Media Panel (OPMP), comprised of the Chairs of Asbof and The Regulatory Funding Company, meets when required and advises on non-broadcast matters concerning the proper distinction between editorial and advertising in online publications.
Although not an industry Panel, CAP and BCAP also seek advice from the Advertising Advisory Committee (AAC), an independent consumer panel, to help provide a consumer perspective to their policy work.