New legislation brought in to crack down on advertising that encourages so-called “pester power” has been given a cautious welcome by the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).
The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, which was passed on April 21, will bring the rest of Europe in line with the UK when it comes to tackling problems such as telephone prize scams and rogue internet trading.
The directive bans 28 different commercial practices, including pyramid marketing schemes and “bait advertising”, such as airlines advertising discount prices that apply only to a few seats on a certain route.
For the first time, the legislation places a “general duty” on all companies in Europe not to trade unfairly and will replace all existing national consumer protection laws in Britain and the rest of the European Union when it comes into force in 2007.
Some experts believe the directive could have severe repercussions for the direct marketing industry, but the DMA says it does not differ significantly from Britain’s existing consumer protection laws and the organisation’s own best-practice guidelines.
A spokeswoman says the initial alarm was “unnecessary” but adds that the DMA will be lobbying the Department of Trade and Industry to make sure that the legislation is enforced properly and only affects those direct marketers who break the rules.