Viewpoints on expanding advertising regulation

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David Cushman, managing director, social business consultancy 90:10

It would be very difficult to apply hard and fast definitions of “honest, legal and decent” in the online environment, where niche interest and cultures prevail. One group’s unacceptable is another group’s excitement. What the ASA finds acceptable in the use of sex in advertising will be at odds with some religious groups, which have self-formed on Facebook or elsewhere. But in moving away from a lowest common denominator publishing model, where one rule had to fit all, we are now in niche publishing, where the rules of the group hold sway and can be seen to hold sway.

Ian Twinn, director of public affairs, advertisers’ trade body ISBA

The beauty of self-regulation is its flexibility to meet changing needs. We do not look for ways to extend regulation but we can act when necessary. The online extension was a result of us identifying a clear gap in consumer protection. Commercial messages on company websites have not been seen as advertising by advertisers, but they have been by the public.

Jo Swinson MP, co-founder of the Campaign for Body Confidence

The ASA’s codes of conduct say that advertisers must have a sense of social responsibility, and I think that is absolutely right. Advertising is everywhere nowadays, and the messages it sends can be very powerful.  When it comes to digital manipulation of images of people, advertisers need to make sure they are being honest about the effects of their product, and they are keeping in mind the harmful effects that idealised images can have on people’s self-esteem and wellbeing.

Mark Hunter, chief executive, Molson Coors UK

The extension of the CAP codes to cover the online space is a good thing. There was not enough of a framework in place, so I think the team that worked on that got to a pretty good, pragmatic place. It was long overdue and it allows us to test which organisations are really prepared to step up and do the right thing, as opposed to those that want to push the limits and maybe step over them.

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