Industry bodies warn of ‘catastrophic’ EU ad laws

The Incorporated Society Of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the
Advertising Association (AA) have warned the UK Government that new
European laws on unfair commercial practices could have a disastrous
impact on the advertising industry.

The trade…

The Incorporated Society Of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Advertising Association (AA) have warned the UK Government that new European laws on unfair commercial practices could have a disastrous impact on the advertising industry.

The trade bodies met the Department of Trade and Industry last week to discuss the European Union’s Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices, which has to be enacted in British law by December 2007.

ISBA and the AA are concerned that European Commission (EC) official guid- ance notes on implementing the directive could mean significant extra expenditure for marketers, or a cut in advertising spend.

According to the trade bodies, there are issues around the definition of what constitutes an “invitation to purchase”. The directive says that an invitation to purchase must include certain information, such as the address and phone number of the manufacturer.

This move is seen as potentially catastrophic for TV and radio broadcasters. ISBA director of public affairs Ian Twinn says: “If clients are faced with buying more airtime to include this extra information, then they might stop using TV or radio altogether.”

Alternatively, marketers might decide to remove any price information from ads, which ISBA and the AA argue would not be in the consumer’s interest.

The EC officials are currently interpreting the Directive to mean that an ad is an invitation to purchase if it includes some product description and a price. But ISBA and the AA believe the Directive includes a third factor in its definition, which is a purchase mechanism such as a coupon in a direct mail shot or in a newspaper advertisement.

Twinn says the AA and ISBA are mobilising support for their view in Europe as well as Whitehall. He adds: “We’ve got two to three months to act before the guidance is published.”

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