Magazine article Marketing

ISBA Annual Conference 2008: Advertisers Square Up for Battle

Magazine article Marketing

ISBA Annual Conference 2008: Advertisers Square Up for Battle

Article excerpt

Speakers urge brands, agencies and broadcasters to resist any further government restrictions on TV advertising.

Advertisers, broadcasters and representatives from trade bodies and agencies used the ISBA Annual Conference in London last week as a platform to set out their plans to tackle the proliferation of advertising restrictions.

Several pressure groups are calling on the government to implement further restrictions on TV advertising, including a 9pm watershed for alcohol ads.

In the session 'Advertising under siege - the fight back starts here', Rupert Howell, ITV's managing director of brand and communications, dismissed further curbs, insisting that 'ad bans will not fix the problems of fat kids'.

He said it was time to 'take a stand' against the tightening regulation of TV ads, and claimed that rules such as those on advertising foods high in fat, salt or sugar to children were 'naive, simplistic and counterproductive'.

Howell called on the government to harness the power of advertising rather than resort to 'futile and damaging' ad bans. 'Instead of letting politicians censor commercial messages, we need to show advertising can be a force for good,' he said.

However, the most scathing attack on the escalating advertising restraints came from Tim Bell, chairman of Chime Communications, who warned that some of the UK's best-known brands will disappear unless marketers take action to prevent further restrictions on advertising.

Lord Bell called on the industry to unite against additional strictures, claiming that consumers should be allowed to 'make up their own minds'. He added that the fashion for controls on ads would ultimately be extended to cars, air travel and energy consumption.

'If we don't take action, fabulous brands that spent millions building their reputations will disappear overnight,' the Tory peer said. 'We can't allow this to happen.'

Bell added that the industry's current stance was ineffective. 'Having meetings with ministers is not the solution,' he said, urging advertisers to work together to create 'outreach campaigns' to boost their corporate social responsibility (CSR) credentials. 'Politicians will tell you that advertising bans work,' added Bell. 'They are liars.'

The session was also a chance for other panellists, including Kraft Foods vice-president and area director Ben Clarke, and ASA Council member Baroness Coussins, to advocate the use of advertising to convey positive messages and innovation. …

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