Watchdog to charm big advertisers

The Advertising Standards Authority is to embark on a charm offensive to try and convince major advertisers it isn’t a “mob” that is “out to get them”.

The move is highlighted in the organisation’s latest annual report out today (Thursday 12th May), which shows the organisation handled over 25,000 complaints about 13,074 ads in 2010 – six per cent less than 2009.

It follows the organisations’s ’process review’ which found poor relationships with some high profile advertisers such as supermarkets led to a ’lack of understanding’ about the watchdog’s work, which then delayed its adjudication processes.

“Some big brand advertisers feel negative towards us because the only relationship they have is when we uphold a complaint which generates negative coverage for their brand and impacts on their reputation,” says an ASA spokesman.

“We will be making an effort to talk to some of those advertisers about our work, to explain that we spend a lot of time dismissing ungrounded complaints about their brands and we’re not a mob who is out to get them,” he added.

The move is part of an effort by the ASA to speed up its adjudication process and improve consistency in its rulings following the process review carried out by consultancy Berkshire last year.

ASA chairman Chris Smith says 2010 was a year of ’significant change’ for the watchdog, which extended its remit to include online marketing and oversaw a review and changes to the advertising rules for the first time in 50 years.

The changes came at a time of falling income it receives from the advertising levies, due to a decline in advertising during the recent recession, leading to less recruitment and spend in non-essential research and procurement areas.

Total income from advertising levies fell by 9.5% to £6,693,075 in 2010 compared to the previous year. However the organisation received seed funding via Google to recruit staff and set-up operations to handle its new online and Video on Demand monitoring responsibilities.

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