New scheme to police posters

The outdoor industry is to introduce a new system of policing controversial poster campaigns, in a bid to crack down on publicity-seeking advertisers.

Advertisers which run campaigns that break ad regulations, often hoping to get free publicity, will be shown a football-style “yellow card”.

They will have to seek copy advice from the Committee of Advertising Practice before contractors agree to run any of their future campaigns. If a second campaign fails to pass CAP copy advice, advertisers will be shown a “red card”.

The high-profile poster industry is open to exploitation because there is no system of pre-vetting campaigns, except on an ad hoc basis by individual contractors.

Contractors often do not know the specific ad content, or if they do, face commercial pressures to run the campaign anyway. Advertisers such as Benetton and Club 18-30 have cast doubt on the efficiency of industry self-regulation.

Richard Holliday, former director general of industry body the Outdoor Advertisers’ Association and now managing director of research group Postar, has been working on the system for several months together with Chris Morley, chairman of the Council of Outdoor Specialists. Issues such as how long advertisers must carry the yellow card penalty have still to be decided.

Alan Simmons, chairman of specialist Concord, says: “You can’t have media owners vetting ads piecemeal. It has to be done under the auspices of the Advertising Standards Authority.”

An ASA spokesman stressed that 98 per cent of all poster advertisers comply with CAP codes and says: “We are very likely to be involved in the new system.”

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