Viral marketing wish for ASA safeguards

Martin Croft’s news piece on the Committee of Advertising Practice’s (CAP) censure of Vivendi Universal Games’ latest viral campaign (MW August 18) was significant because the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has steered clear of viral advertising. CAP meets at the end of September to discuss the vexed issue of viral marketing and it is important that the regulatory structure it lays down safeguards what is a dynamic and highly effective advertising medium.

As an agency that specialises in viral marketing, we feel strongly that all formats of the medium should fall under the remit of the ASA and CAP. Firstly, and most importantly, this would legitimise an advertising channel that has been an easy target for pundits to condemn. Secondly, it will replace the confusing regulatory code with a clear, unambiguous framework for clients and agencies. The recent uncertainty regarding whether downloaded content falls under the ASA’s remit is a clear example of such regulatory confusion.

What CAP must recognise is that viral marketing is a form of brand experience like any other and as marketing moves further towards branded content, it is vital that viral marketing takes its rightful place as a bona fide, legitimate channel. Nothing less will suffice.

Louis Halpern

Chief executive officer

Halpern Cowan

London NW1

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