The Secret Marketer on regulation

As most people start to wind down for the festive break, this week my brand has commissioned a major marketing campaign for the New Year. This is great news in many respects (not least for the new business development director at the said agency, looking to close the year with a big win). However, what is interesting is that the campaign has largely been initiated by certain members of my board, who are not entirely accustomed to the vagaries of how a campaign is developed, the role of the various players (from planner to art director to suit), and quite what to expect as a result. But, as I said, it is still great that my board want to do this sort of stuff.

Secret Marketer

What they would be most confused by is the role of the ASA and other regulators, and the number of campaigns that I have noticed in the press that have been censured in the past few weeks. On the back of the Leveson Inquiry, it will be interesting to see how our world will respond – especially in the area of misrepresentation.

As I walk along the high street with my children, I struggle to justify to them how an ‘All Day Breakfast’ is only available until 4pm. Or why – at this time of year – my local church is offering a ‘Midnight Mass’ on Christmas Eve that starts at 11am. Or my local bar offers a ‘Happy Hour’ from 5pm until 7.30pm.

I guess we are all guilty of a slight play on words, where the words work. In my business we have something called ‘Product of the Month’, but in reality it rarely runs for an exact month, and generally they are services rather than products that we are promoting.

Does this really matter? Sometimes I feel that the regulators treat consumers too much like children. Do we really need to be mollycoddled around some of the claims of advertisers; are we not sensible human beings who can make our mind up whether something is simply a play on words, or is too good to be true?



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