2013: What marketers can expect from law makers

Marketing Week flags up some of the consultations, regulatory changes and voluntary agreements marketers need to look out for in 2013.



What: The European Union Data Protection directive, unveiled in January 2012, requires marketers to gain explicit consent from consumers to use their personal data for campaigns among a host of other requirements.

Why it matters: The proposals were met with criticism from industry bodies, which slammed it as a “brake on innovation, competitiveness and growth”. It is argued the need for companies to gain consent before processing data of any kind stifles responsible use of data for marketing activity.

When: Negotiations will continue throughout 2013. The European Parliament’s draft report on the directive is due to be published 10 January.

Government Open Data

What: Ads presented to consumers based on browsing history data, the practice known as online behavioural advertising (OBA), are to be regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority. The regulator will also require brands to include a mechanism to gain consent from users to use cookies that procure data for marketing or other purposes under the terms of the European Union Privacy Directive introduced in May 2012.

Why it matters: The advertising networks behind online brand ads will have to explicitly state to customers they are collecting data to target them with online advertisements or face having their campaigns banned.

When: The ASA will assume oversight from 4 February.



What: The Government has set a minimum alcohol unit price per unit of alcohol at 45p for England and Wales as part of its strategy to tackle alcohol misuse. Ministers have also proposed banning some multi-deal promotions in supermarkets and off-licences.

Why it matters: The industry argues a minimum price will push up prices, penalising the vast majority of responsible drinkers. It is also argued regulating prices and promotions sets a dangerous precedent.

When: The consultation ends February with an announcement on changes to the law expected by the summer.


What: The European Commission is currently reviewing the scope of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, which was transposed into UK law in 2008 and covers bait advertising, after sales services, advertorials and the prohibition of marketing that plays on consumers’ security fears.

Why it matters: The application of the directive to sales promotion is under consideration, possibly adding an additional layer of regulation. Extending the directive to financial services firms, also under consideration, could restrict marketing practices in the sector. Revisions to account for the rise of social media and other digital channels are also being looked at.

When: A first reading of the review is expected in the first quarter.


What: The second anniversary of Reg Bailey’s report into the sexualisation of children is expected to be marked by a report into the progress made by the advertising, media and retail industries in meeting the recommendations outlined in the 2010 report.

Why it matters: Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed many of the marketing-related recommendations. The industry will be expected to deliver on promises or face the possibility of punitive action.

When: January.

What: The Government’s review into rules governing advertising cosmetic surgery. A consultation launched in August 2012 to discuss the possibility of introducing new rules and the “proportionality” of the current codes written by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and broadcast equivalent BCAP.

Why it matters: The Government has been under pressure to act since it emerged thousands of women were given faulty breast implants by French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP). The scandal led the British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) to call for an outright ban on advertising cosmetic procedures after claiming the industry was an “under regulated wild west”.

When: Results of the consultation expected in Spring 2013.



What: The Government has proposed introducing plain packaging for cigarette brands. A consultation looking at how logos and colours encourage smoking closed in August.

Why it matters: A ban on on-pack branding would remove the last marketing opportunity available to cigarette brands.

When: The Government’s response to the consultation is expected in the first quarter.


What: An independent regulatory body for the newspaper industry with the power to enforce fines of up to £1m to be introduced.


Why it matters: The body is key to rebuilding the trust of the public and advertisers in the wake of 2011’s hacking scandal. One key issue to be resolved is whether the body will be underpinned by law, as recommended by Leveson but rejected by the majority of publishers.

When: Expected to be set up by the end of the first quarter.


What: Mobile operators such as Vodafone, O2 and Three will be awarded a licence to offer the super-fast 4G spectrum to customers.


Why it matters: Those awarded licenses are likely to increase marketing activity to promote their services if they join EE in offering 4G. All will be competing to highlight points of differentiation.

When: Bidding for the spectrum will start in January, with licences expected to be granted in February and March. Services should go live in May and June.

Financial Services

What: New regulator for the industry, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), supersedes the old Financial Services Authority (FSA) next year, and will have the power to restrict or ban certain marketing tactics for particular products.

Why it matters: The FCA looks set to have the power temporarily to make sure certain products are only marketed to quite specific customer segments and demand the removal of or changes to certain product features.

When: No date yet set but promised for 2013.


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 “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 2012.



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