Saturday, 29 October 2011

Ad Regulation. A fine line between right and wrong?

With so many different opinions today about what’s right and wrong it’s no surprise that some people are offended by adverts they see on television.

Advertising regulations have changed dramatically over the years. Today the regulations for broadcasting adverts are a mixture of self regulation and statutory laws created by parliament. Self regulation comprises of three different areas.
1. The Committee of Advertising Practice draws up the British codes of advertising, sales promotions and direct marketing. 
2. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) applies these codes and ensures adverts don’t breach them.
3. The ASA have staff that promote the self regulatory system and investigate complaints made.

Even although there is a regulation system in place there are still times when rules will be broken and adverts will have to be banned and pulled from broadcast. Some adverts may not have been created to offend but the advertisers got it wrong, others may be deliberately designed to shock, as they say “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” A banned advert will usually generate more publicity than other ads and they will always be found on the internet attached to a news article about it long after the event. Therefore some companies see it as a good thing that their advert is noticed and talked about even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

 This NHS advert was designed to be shocking however a lot of people thought the ad was disturbing and offensive. The advertisers perhaps misjudged public reaction and this ad was banned.

Ryan Air is a repeat offender getting adverts banned time and time again. Maybe this shows that they like to be a little controversial and feel that being remembered this way doesn’t hinder but helps their business.

In my opinion there seems to be a very thin line about what adverts are and are not acceptable even with rules in place. In our last lecture we were shown a series of adverts that were controversial and were asked to guess whether or not they’d been banned.

Here is an example we discussed and my opinion.

The Wonder bra 'Hello Boy’s' ad. Vs. Diesel 'Be Stupid' ad.

Both adverts were complained about but only the Diesel ad was banned. In the case of the Hello Boys ad people were offended by the nudity and the provocative slogan. It was justified as being humorous and not intended to cause harm therefore wasn’t banned. The Diesel ad which also shows a half naked woman was banned as it was said to be a bad influence condoning illegal behaviour. However I think both ads were intended to be funny and not taken seriously, it can be read in their tag lines. It’s a tricky situation to determine what’s right and wrong especially with advertising companies pushing the rules to their limit. Does this make the rules consistent? Is it fair that an advert isn’t always banned even if it offends people? Maybe stricter rules should be in place to rid the industry of this grey area to ensure the public won’t have to see images they don’t want to. But I’m sure that would take away the fun of it all. Sometimes we want the boundaries pushed a little if not would all ads not be the same, a little boring and perhaps not very memorable. The worst, most offensive ads are the most memorable after all.

Here are a couple of adverts I currently find offensive. (Dislike!)

Go Compare! That man. That song….irritating!! Why does it stay in my head all day!!

The Heinz soup ad. I just hate people blowing on their food it's disgusting. I find this worse than the most complained about ad. (KFC women singing with their mouth full)

Obviously this is just my opinion and they aren’t controversial like the other ads showing nudity and illegal behaviour. But I just don’t like them and would be quite happy if they were banned!

Below is the most complained about advert. People said that it should be banned as it encouraged bad manners to children. It wasn't banned. They argued that manners are generated over time this advert wouldn't affect how a child behaves. What’s your opinion of it? 

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