What marketers can expect from lawmakers in 2012

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With 2012 almost up on us, Marketing Week flags up the consultations, regulatory changes and voluntary agreements marketers need to look out for in the new year.

Advertising Regulation

What: The industry, led by the Advertising Association, will be under pressure to implement recommendations made in the government-backed Bailey report into the commercialisation of childhood.
Why it matters: Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed many of the marketing-related recommendations. Several major advertisers, including Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble, have already agreed to end use of peer to peer marketing or child brand ambassadors but the industry will be expected to deliver on promises or face the possibility of punitive action.
The Advertising Standards Authority has also signalled its intention to crack down on outdoor ads featuring sexually provocative imagery, called for by Bailey, after several high profile cases.
When: The advertising industry will update the prime minister in January on progress. Expect further voluntary agreements throughout the year.

Food and drink

What: Food and drink brands are under pressure to do more to help reduce calorie intake after health secretary Andrew Lansley said in October that efforts needed “to extend and intensify”. Demands have been made for the industry to explore the reformulation of products to make them less energy dense and increase marketing efforts to promote balanced diets.
Why it matters: The government has repeatedly said it prefers voluntary agreements over statutory regulation but will want to see a big effort from brands after criticism from health bodies over its partnership approach.
When: Voluntary pledges could be announced in March when the government’s responsibility deal with industry reaches its first anniversary.

What: European Union regulation on the information labels must carry on the origin of foods. Extending the law to include ready meals is also being
considered.
Why it matters: Many UK food producers and supermarkets already carry country of origin information but it is still unclear whether the EU law will require them to offer more or different information. Law changes will also have an impact on GDA labelling, nutrition labelling and print sizes.
When: The law came into force 13 December with compliance phased in throughout 2012.

Direct marketing

What: Ofcom has proposed that Royal Mail be free to increase the prices it charges for delivering bulk advertising mail.
Why it matters: The DM industry fears that increased prices will reduce the appeal of direct mail to marketers and hasten the drift towards electronic communications.
When: The deadline for submissions to Ofcom’s consultation is 5 January with a decision expected in March.

Data

What: UK businesses that run websites will have to gain consent to store information via cookies on users’ computers for use in behavioural advertising, for example. Online adverts across Europe will need to display a recognisable clickable icon so users can access more information about how companies will use their data.
Why it matters: The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) says it will take the “necessary steps” to ensure those that are not introducing measures to ensure compliance fall into line. It is also likely that the Advertising Standards Authority will assume regulatory oversight and investigate complaints made about behavioural advertising.
When: Compliance is expected by 26 May.

Retail

What: Cigarettes and other tobacco products must be kept out sight of customers.
Why it matters: Tobacco brands will be denied one of the few remaining marketing platforms available to them.
When: The display ban comes into force on 6 April for supermarkets and other “larger” stores.

What: Retail marketing expert Mary Portas’ conclusions on the future of the UK’s high streets have been passed to the government. Recommendations include: better management of town centres, a review of the business rate system and disincentives for landlords leaving properties vacant.
Why it matters: David Cameron has shown with the Bailey review that he takes the findings of commissioned reviews seriously. Expect to see working groups to look at implementing some of the measures set up later in 2012.
When: The government says it will respond to the recommendations in the spring.

London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games

What: Rules are in place to prevent non-sponsors engaging in advertising activity in an “event zone”, a two mile radius around any Olympic venue. No advertising by sponsors or non-sponsors is allowed in stadiums.
Why it matters: Those that contravene the rules, usually individuals or teams of “ambush” marketers, face criminal action if found guilty. Marketing directors could also be found culpable if it is proven that they had direct knowledge of and or responsibility for the act.
When: 27 July-12 Aug and 27 July-12 Aug respectively.

Alcohol

What: Alcohol industry body The Portman Group is consulting on changes to its marketing code. Proposed changes include building a social responsibility pledge into sponsorship agreements and extending the code to include currently communications activity not covered by the ASA or Ofcom such as retailer-led promotions.
Why it matters: The government will be watching the outcome of the consultation closely after the industry promised to bolster its code under the terms of its responsibility deal with the Department of Health.
When: A consultation on the proposals is open until 31 January. Changes are likely before the first anniversary of the responsibility deal in March.

Financial Services

What: The Financial Service Authority’s Retail Distribution Review (RDR) bans financial advisers from receiving commission on the investment products such as personal pensions they sell. Advisers will have to tell customers how much they charge for their services. Many advisers will have to gain additional qualifications to reach the minimum FSA requirement.
Why it matters: Firms will not be able to accept commission in return for recommending specific products. The FSA hopes that the changes will to “boost confidence and trust” in the retail investment market by removing “commission bias” that might lead to mis-selling. Critics argue that additional qualification requirement and reduced commission will lead to fewer advisers and less choice.  
When: Changes will come into effect on 31 December.

Media

What: The digital TV switchover.
Why it matters: Competition between on-demand, pay-TV, IPTV providers and free digital services is likely to intensify with the number of new products
and entrants likely to increase.
When: The final region, London, will see its analogue signal switch off on 4 April.

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