Magazine article Marketing

Cracking the Code

Magazine article Marketing

Cracking the Code

Article excerpt

The Advertising Standards Authority's new code of practice for the industry is designed for the 90s. Robin Cobb looks at whether this really is an updating or just a rewrite

The new code of sales promotion practice is largely a rewrite job, putting previous strictures into plainer language. The most obvious change introduced by the Advertising Standards Authority is to produce both the advertising and the sales promotion codes in the same, loose-leaf volume. Also, earlier guidance notes have been strengthened into specific rules.

In its first major review of the codes since 1988, the ASA sternly maintains its stance that promotion should be "legal, decent, honest and truthful". A variation of this has crept in with "truthful and socially responsible".

Says the ASA: "The new codes take account of changes in attitudes that have taken place in the past five years, both in society generally and in the marketplace."

They require all promotions to be:

* In line with accepted principles of fair competition.

* Presented in such a way as to ensure any limitations are clear before any commitment to purchase is made.

* Conducted promptly and efficiently, to avoid causing disappointment.

* In line with the spirit, as well as the letter, of the rules.

It would take a trained solicitor to pore through the code to identify some of the changes of nuance. MacFarlanes, a London firm of solicitors, has done just that.

It notes: "The new sections on health, beauty and slimming involve considerable rationalisation from the old code. …

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