‘Biased’, say public of TV ad watchdog

Nearly two-thirds of the public believe that the regulation of television advertising is biased towards commercial interests, according to research carried out on behalf of Marketing Week by TNS.

Some 59 per cent of respondents considered the judgements of the TV ad watchdog, which has been the self-regulated Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) since last year, are to an “extent influenced by commercial considerations”. Twenty-seven per cent disagreed and a further 14 per cent said they did not know.

The facts have emerged as the ASA embarks on a major advertising drive to explain its mission more clearly.

The campaign, which breaks this week on donated space on TV and outdoor, seems timely. Although a small number of those interviewed (six per cent) correctly identified the ASA as the regulatory body for TV advertising, 94 per cent either did not know or offered an incorrect answer.

The respondents were also asked whether they felt TV ads were more likely to offend them than three years ago. Some 46 per cent said they did, 42 per cent said they did not and 12 per cent claimed they did not know.

The research was conducted in Great Britain via PhoneBus among 1,015 adults over 16, between October 7 and 9.

According to ASA director general Christopher Graham, the new advertising campaign will not be a “call to action” to persuade people to complain more. “It will be an awareness drive to tell consumers about a system available to them if they want to complain about any advertising,” he says. Graham says that the ASA is expecting to resolve over 28,000 complaints this year.

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