Offensive poster ads face two-year vetting

Advertisers who run offensive or shocking poster campaigns will be required to submit to pre-vetting of subsequent campaigns for the next two years under tough new rules being enforced by the outdoor industry.

The Outdoor Advertising Association and the Council of Advertising Practice has formalised the existing system of in-house vetting of artwork by poster contractors, which will now be carried out officially by the Committee of Advertising Practice’s Copy Advice team.

If the Advertising Standards Authority upholds a complaint against a poster campaign on account of taste, decency or social responsibility, the client will be placed in a “sin bin” for two years. The poster industry will be alerted to the offending advertiser.

The system could mean contractors will lose bookings if a client’s art work is rejected and the poster campaign is subsequently dropped. However, all contractors insist on cancellation fees.

Chris Morley, chairman of the Council of Outdoor Specialists, claims the policy has to be tough. He says: “There was a sense that although the number of offending campaigns is very small, there were advertisers who were prepared to abuse the system. It takes some time to take campaigns down and often the campaign gets picked up by the national press. We have got to close that loophole.”

Matti Alderson, the ASA’s director general, says: “There is little doubt that the poster industry feels its reputation has been damaged by the actions of these advertisers (who exploit the very public nature of the medium).

The new controls come into force on June 1.

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