Guy Parker - Advertising Regulation

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    • 00:02

      [SAGE video experts]

    • 00:06

      GUY PARKER: My name is Guy Parker. [Guy Parker, ChiefExecutive, Advertising Standards Authority]I am the Chief Exec of the Advertising StandardsAuthority.[Can you tell us about the role of the Advertising StandardsAuthority and why it is important to regulateadvertising?]The Advertising Standards Authority, the ASA,is the body that's responsible for regulating ads in the UK.

    • 00:30

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Our purpose, our reason to be, is to make surethat ads are responsible.And our ambition is to make every UK ad a responsible ad.That's what we're in the game to try and achieve.The reason why it's important is because we thinkthat responsible ads are good.We think they're good for the business.

    • 00:51

      GUY PARKER [continued]: They're good for society.They're good for people.And we love ads, as all of us do, that engage us,make us laugh, tell us about something that we need to know,tell us about products or services that save us money.But not all ads are responsible.And so we need the ASA in the UK and equivalent bodiesin other countries to make sure those adsdon't mislead people or offend them or cause them harm.

    • 01:22

      GUY PARKER [continued]: [How do you assess whether an ad is or isn't responsible?]One of the tasks that we're faced withis to decide what is responsible and what isn't responsible.We're very clear that, as an organization regulatingadvertising in the UK, we want to make sure that we're takingdecisions that reflect society.

    • 01:44

      GUY PARKER [continued]: We try and avoid being a social engineer,but it still means that we have to make judgments aboutwhether or not, for example, an ad islikely to cause serious or widespread offense to people,to the audience, who sees it.If we think that the ad will do that, then we will tackle it.We will make sure it's changed.If we think that it might be a bit tasteless but it'sunlikely to cause serious or widespread offense,then that ad can continue to appear.

    • 02:12

      GUY PARKER [continued]: One of the challenges for us is makingsure to work with setting the rules in the right place,and interpreting the rules in the right way in some reallyquite challenging and sensitive sectors, advertising of foodsthat are high in fat, salt, and sugar,and may be contributing to the situationthat the UK finds itself in at the moment, where there'sa really very high level of obesity,including amongst children; advertising for alcohol,again, where there are societal concerns in the UK,and in many other countries in Europe and around the world,around harmful drinking behaviors.

    • 02:51

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Ads that rely on processing people's datato target those advertisements can raise issuesaround privacy.And people get concerned about whether or nottheir privacy, their data, is being used in the right way.So these are some of the issues that we tackle, and it'ssometimes a real matter of judgmentwhere we should draw the line.[What does your role entail as Chief Executiveof the Advertising Standards Authority?]I'm the Chief Executive of the ASA.

    • 03:20

      GUY PARKER [continued]: I'm responsible for leading the organization.I'm responsible for making sure that the strategy is right,albeit in conjunction with the Board of the ASA.I'm responsible for making sure that our employees arewell-managed and are motivated.I'm responsible for making sure we'vegot sufficient budget to do the job that we set out to do,and making sure that we spend that money in the right way.

    • 03:45

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And finally I'm responsible for representing the ASA externallyto stakeholders, taking part in media interviewswhen ads that we've banned hit the news.And also telling people about the workwe do and its importance, includingin interviews like this.

    • 04:05

      GUY PARKER [continued]: [Could you briefly describe your career path to date?]Like many people who work in regulation,including advertising regulation,I didn't grow up wanting to be a regulator.I grew up wanting to be, I think Iwanted to draw for a living for most of my childhood.

    • 04:26

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And then I turned that into architecture.But I ended up falling into this role.After I left university, I did a deployment advertisingat what is now West Hertfordshire University.I came out of that bit of educationstraight into a workplace in the height of the recessionin the early 1992 recession.

    • 04:52

      GUY PARKER [continued]: It was very difficult to get a job.I did some work experience at advertising agencies,and I heard about this job going at the Advertising StandardsAuthority as an investigations executive.So I joined the ASA at that time.And my job was to investigate complaintsfrom the public about ads that theywere worried were misleading or offensive or harmful.

    • 05:13

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And I worked my way up the organization,and in 2009 took over as Chief Executive.[What inspires you about the work you do at ASA?]I'm excited by, well, first of all advertising and the media.It's a fascinating place to work at.

    • 05:34

      GUY PARKER [continued]: The people are interesting, the ideas are interesting.We're at the forefront of technological innovation.The sort of issues that matter in societyinevitably find their way into my worldof advertising regulation.The sort of challenges that society face very oftenhave an advertising dimension.

    • 05:60

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And questions are raised about whether advertisingthat touches on these sorts of issues needs to be regulated,and if so, how should it be regulated?How tightly should it be regulated?So it's a lovely, it's a lovely roleto have because it's so relevant.It's so relevant to our lives.And if I'm ever at a party and I tell someone what job I do,people are always interested.

    • 06:24

      GUY PARKER [continued]: They always have a question about, well what about this adI saw?And what about this?What about that?And I'm sure there are probably a lot of jobsthat you can think of that aren't like that.So that's one of the things that Ilove about working in the advertising worldthe advertising and media world.It feels very relevant.

    • 06:44

      GUY PARKER [continued]: But I'm also passionate about making surethat ads are responsible.So that really plays to one of my key values,which is around fairness, making surethat people aren't ripped off.[What are the ethical and legal considerationsthat serve as a framework around campaigns?Why do we have codes of practice within the industry?]So in the UK, like a lot of countries around the world,we have advertising codes.

    • 07:11

      GUY PARKER [continued]: The advertising codes contain the rulesthat the ad industry has said it willabide by-- to make sure that ads are legal, decent, honest,and truthful; to make sure that ads are preparedwith a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society;to make sure that ads play by the rules of fair competition,make sure that everyone's playing by a levelplaying field.

    • 07:40

      GUY PARKER [continued]: It's easy, but it's sometimes a mistaketo think that the advertising codes are only there to protectpeople, to protect consumers.That's obviously, absolutely fundamental.But it's also important for the advertising industryto fund the system.The rules work for those companies who are playingby the rules and protect them against companies who aren't.

    • 08:03

      GUY PARKER [continued]: In terms of what the rules are, they'rea mix of principle-based rules, like youmustn't make any claims, including implied claims, thatmislead or are likely to mislead people-- one of the absolutelykey rules in the code.And that is complemented by another rule thatsays that if you're making a claim thatis an advertising claims-- including using images.

    • 08:29

      GUY PARKER [continued]: It doesn't have to be using words--if you're making a claim, that islikely to be taken by the audience as a claimas an objective statement, then you'vegot to be able to prove it.The onus is on you, as an advertiser,to provide evidence in support of that claim.And one of the tasks of the ASA and other bodieslike us is to make sure that we're checking that companieshave got sufficient evidence to support those sorts of claims.

    • 08:55

      GUY PARKER [continued]: You also have specific claims thatcover particularly sensitive issues or sectors.So the first advertising code that the ASAwas responsible for policing was publishedin 1962, the first edition of the BritishCode of Advertising Practice it was called at that time.They contain specific rules on elastic hosiery,and treatments for whooping cough.

    • 09:22

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Now we don't have those specific rules in the Code anymore,but the latest rules that we have publishedrelate to advertising for e-cigarettes,which are a pretty recent phenomenon, and rulesaround online behavioral advertising,again, a method of advertising thatwasn't around ten years ago.

    • 09:43

      GUY PARKER [continued]: [What types of media does the Advertising Standards Authoritycover?]So the Advertising Standards Authoritycovers advertising in pretty well all media, certainly allthe major ones-- TV, radio, print, posters,direct marketing, leaflets that are handed out in the street,and online advertising, as well.

    • 10:06

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And that includes, since 2011, thatincludes claims, advertising claims, that companiesand organizations make on their own websitesand in other social media spaces under their control.And that extension in our remit in 2011was a really big move for us because that's wherea lot of the action is now.

    • 10:30

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And we made that change in responseto demand from the public that weshould play more of a role in that space,and also demand from politicians that wehad to plug what they considered to be a gap in our coverage.And it is now responsible for about 40% of the work we do.[What are the main challenges of regulating advertising online?]One of the challenges for us with the developmentof the online world, the internet and recently mobile,is this issue of jurisdiction.

    • 11:02

      GUY PARKER [continued]: How do we know whether this is an act that the ASA and the UKshould be looking into?Or should it be the equivalent of the ASAin Holland or America or France or Italy or wherever?There are ways by which we decidewho should be responsible for being the competent advertisingregulation body to tackle these issues.

    • 11:24

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Very, very broadly speaking, it'sbased on the country of origin of the advertiser thatis making these claims.But we break that down to make surethat we're not really limited when a company, for example,has its head office in America but hasgot significant operations elsewhere.So we'll look at it from that point of view.

    • 11:46

      GUY PARKER [continued]: We'll make sure that the body that takes actionis best-placed to act and to put pressure on the advertiserto make changes to their advertising,if that's what needs to happen.But there's no question about it.The technological revolution that we'reliving through the at the moment,and the emergence of the fact that these ads aresuch an important part of so many people's lives now.

    • 12:11

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And thereby, it's becoming such an important part of everyone'slives does present challenges to regulators across the board,not just advertising regulators.And one of the particular challengesis, how do you deal with scams that we've all seen online.We've all received scam emails into our in boxes.They're a real challenge.

    • 12:32

      GUY PARKER [continued]: They're not the type of advertising problemsthat the ASA was set up to deal with because theyvery often involve criminals, and quitesophisticated criminals who are operating outside the law.And that's one of the challenges for regulationacross the field.

    • 12:52

      GUY PARKER [continued]: [How were the codes of practice created,and how have they changed over time?]How do we make sure the rules that we are administeringand enforcing are the right rules for the UK--that these huge technological changes in the last 15, 20years, and that has clearly had an impact on the advertisingrules that we police.

    • 13:16

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Three years ago, 2011, or four years ago,we extended our coverage to covera lot more online, in response to those technological changes.But there have also been big changes in society, and in whatpeople generally regard as acceptable, in whatpeople generally are prepared to see in ads.

    • 13:38

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Ads that could appear without any controversy at allin the '60s and '70s, simply would notbe acceptable to today's society.And of course, there are issues thatare around now that are sensitive in today'ssociety that just simply weren't around 20, 30 years ago.

    • 14:02

      GUY PARKER [continued]: So it's very much the case of the challengesthat your society faces will influence the sort of issuesthat regulators like us are dealing with on a daily basis.One of the key principles that we apply when we regulateis to make sure that our regulationis proportionate and targeted, and isbased on the best evidence.

    • 14:30

      GUY PARKER [continued]: So take an issue that's been quite bigin the UK in the last 10 years or so-- harmful drinking.Clearly advertising has a part to playin UK society's relationship with alcoholic drink.Does that mean that advertising, per se,is solely responsible for harmful drinking patterns?

    • 14:53

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Of course not.So what role should advertising regulation play?One of the ways that we can make surethat advertising is responsible isto regularly check the state of the evidenceto make sure that we're setting the rules in the right place.

    • 15:14

      GUY PARKER [continued]: With alcohol for example, you're notallowed to target alcohol ads at under-18s,either in terms of the content that the individual askthemselves, or in terms of the placement of those ads.For example, you can't show TV adsfor alcoholic products in and around children's programming,or around any programs that are disproportionatelymore likely to be watched by an under-18 audience--a good example of how the system respondsto what is a societal concern.

    • 15:50

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Similarly, in terms of content of alcohol ads, alcoholcompanies who are putting together their ads,are not allowed to feature anyonein their ad playing a prominent role,if they're under the age of 25.Now you'll see that there's a buffer builtin there because the legal drinkingage in the UK, the legal purchasing age in the UK,rather, is 18.

    • 16:12

      GUY PARKER [continued]: A seven-year buffer has been built in thereto make absolutely sure that the content of these adsisn't likely to encourage minors to drink.[How does the complaint process work,and how are complaints assessed and responded to?]In terms of the main activities of the ASA,a significant part of what we do is dealing with complaints,mainly from members of the public,and I'll say a bit more about that in a second,we also undertake a very large number of proactive monitoringand compliance cases.

    • 16:48

      GUY PARKER [continued]: We do over 1,000 of these cases a year.These are cases where no one has complained to us,but we think there's a potential problem,or a very likely problem under the advertising codes.And we need to act and get the ad stopped or changed.We provide advice and training, around 200,000 piecesof advice and training, to the advertising industry.

    • 17:09

      GUY PARKER [continued]: So this is where we are saying to advertising companies thatare coming to us for help, and we're explaining to themor providing them with resources to help them to avoidthe problem in the first place so they don't getinto trouble with the ASA, so they can makesure their ads are responsible.And we spend a fair amount of resourcesas well, constantly checking that the ad rules areset in the right place.

    • 17:30

      GUY PARKER [continued]: So this is the bit of our work thatis making sure that we are policing advertisingin a way that reflects society, and doesn't ignore it or go toofar and start to socially engineerwhere we think society should be on certain issues.But going back to complaints.

    • 17:50

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Last year we received around 50,000 complaints.About 95% of those were from members of the public.They related to about 18,000 or 19,000 ads or ad campaigns.So it's a lot of work.Anyone can complain to the ASA about an adthat they are worried about, that's upset them,that they think might be, for example,misleading, that they think might have been targetedat them, based on information that was improperly gatheredfor them.

    • 18:22

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Anyone can complain to the ASA.It's very simple.Most people complain to us by fillingin our online complaints form on our website.And if people just Google the ASA, you'll very, very quicklyfind your way to that.It doesn't cost you anything, so there'sno charge for complaining.We will make an assessment, an assessmentof every single complaint that we receive.

    • 18:45

      GUY PARKER [continued]: We will assess whether or not we think it raises issuesunder the advertising codes.If we think that it does, then we will act.And there's a variety of different waysthat we will act.We promise that we'll always do somethingif we think there's a problem with the ad.It doesn't mean we'll always launcha full, formal investigation thatresults in an ASA adjudication thatis published on our website.

    • 19:09

      GUY PARKER [continued]: That happens about 1,000 times a year.But we will always do something if we think there is a problem.And of course, we're in the businessof trying to make sure that ads get changed or stoppedif they're breaking the rules.Out of around 30,000 complaints that we receive each year,relating to around 18,000 or 19,000 ads or ad campaigns,we will take action against around 25%.

    • 19:30

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And that normally means that we'llbe asking for changes to be made to the ad,or we will be stopping the ad or the campaign altogether.I mean, if you think about it, if you ask for changesto be made for the ad, then you can describe thatas an ad that's been stopped, so the original ad can't reappear.We will try wherever we can to work with companies to do that,without having to get too bureaucratic about it.

    • 19:55

      GUY PARKER [continued]: So out of the roughly four and 1/2 thousand casesthat we are investigating taking that sort of action against,we will resolve around three, three and 1/2 thousandof those cases informally.We will seek an undertaking from the companythat they will make the necessary changesto their advertising.And on receipt of that, we will close down the case.

    • 20:19

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And the remaining 1,000 or so cases, we formally investigate.Now that's the process that is quasi-judicial.It involves us producing a recommendation thatincorporates the response from the company on whythey think their advertising complies with the Code.

    • 20:39

      GUY PARKER [continued]: We will make a recommendation to the Council of the AdvertisingStandards Authority on whether or notwe think the ad is a problem or not.And it is the Advertising Standards Authority Council,which is independent of the advertising industryand is chaired by Lord Chris Smith of Finsbury.The Council makes the final decision.

    • 21:01

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And after that decision is made, wepublish that ruling, that adjudication on our website.So it's a very transparent and open and accountable process.And the reason why we publish the adjudicationis partly because it's important in those situationsto publicize it as being a problem.

    • 21:21

      GUY PARKER [continued]: But also equally importantly, it's importantto explain when the formal investigations are beingconcluded-- whether or not the ad has been bad-- to explainthe thinking behind the decision because that provides reallyimportant learning for others in the same sector,in the industry more widely on howwe are administering the codes and the nature of the decisionswe're taking.

    • 21:45

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And what they need to do to make sure they get their ad right.[Could you give us an example of an issue you've been dealingwith recently?]In terms of some of the issues that we've tackled recently,in the last 12 months or so, we dealt with a situationwhere a gambling company called Paddy Power publisheda national press ad at around the time of the Oscars,the film Oscars.

    • 22:13

      GUY PARKER [continued]: The ads consisted of an Oscar statuebut it had been Photoshopped to look like Oscar, OscarPistorius, who at the time was being triedfor murder of his girlfriend.And they were using the ad to announce that they were openinga market on whether or not Oscar Pistorius was likely to befound guilty or not.

    • 22:37

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Now unsurprisingly, this caused an avalanche of complaints.We received over 5,000 complaints in about 24,48 hours.So it became very quickly the most complained about adin the history of the Advertising StandardsAuthority.We very, very quickly banned it.Good example of a company, I think, not really realizinghow what they, I think, anticipatedto be a cheeky and irreverent ad wasgoing to go down at that time.

    • 23:08

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Other issues that we deal with.We get, we deal with quite a lot of cases around supermarketprice comparisons.That's a big issue for people.We get regular complaints around the pricingof telecoms and broadband packages.Again these are another area wherethere is absolutely fierce competitionbetween the big players in the UK market.

    • 23:33

      GUY PARKER [continued]: So those are the sorts of, those aretypical of the sorts of issues that we receive.[Who has the final word when an ad has been consideredirresponsible?]So the Advertising Standards Authorityis the final decision-making part of the ASA.

    • 23:55

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Many of the decisions that the ASA takes about whether or notthey break the rules, we do want a delegated authorityfrom the Advertising Standards Authority Council.But the 1,000 or so cases that we formally investigate allend up with a decision by the ASA Council.I gave the example of a Paddy Power's Oscar Pistoriuscampaign that we banned very, very quicklyin a matter of days.

    • 24:19

      GUY PARKER [continued]: We did that using fast track processes that we have,whereby in extreme circumstances,we can fast track a case to the ASA Councilto get a very quick decision.[Could you talk about the balance between being creativeand pushing boundaries?]There's always going to be a tension in advertisingbetween being creative, using humor, pushing boundaries,shouting loudly so you can be heardin a very contested advertising marketplace,for want of a better term, and making surethat your advertising is responsible.

    • 25:02

      GUY PARKER [continued]: There always has been that tension,there always will be that tension.Our role is very much to make sure we get the balance right,and really where that line should be.Like everyone, we like creative ads.We like ads that make us laugh.We like ads that make us think.We like ads that are engaging.But like everyone, there are ads that we sometimesfeel go too far.

    • 25:27

      GUY PARKER [continued]: So that's a difficult job to do because it quiteinvolves quite often subjective judgments, though that'sno reason not to take these sort of judgmentsand make those sorts of decisions.But one has to face up to the fact they are subjective,and what's OK to one person will not be OK to others.

    • 25:48

      GUY PARKER [continued]: It's, I think, increasingly difficult because it'sreally hard to read what is society's, what it's like to besociety's reaction to enact.And of course, society doesn't react in the same way.Different parts of society will react in very different ways.Saying that, today's advertising marketplaceoffers more opportunities to carefully target your messagethan at any time before.

    • 26:17

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And media context, the context in which an ad appears--including the nature of the product or service--is really, really important in the decisions that we make.You can be a bit more controversial.You can push the boundaries more whenit comes to matters of taste and decencyif you are carefully targeting your ad at an audience that'slikely to be broad-minded than you canif you're plastering it all over great big outdoor billboardsall the way around town.

    • 26:51

      GUY PARKER [continued]: [How do you deal with ads that could be consideredmisleading?]One of the things that we do when we are judging ads,make sure that we are looking at it from the point of viewof the audience.Make sure we're looking at it from the point of viewof the people that are likely watching that TVprogram, likely to be seeing that poster, likely to bereading that magazine, or receiving that direct marketingemail, or viewing the ad at the cinema for that film.

    • 27:23

      GUY PARKER [continued]: But people aren't stupid, and we apply, particularlywhen we are dealing with issues around misleading us,we apply a test called the average consumer test.We need to take the decision basedon what the average consumer is likely to think,how they're likely to interpret the ad-- the average consumerwithin the audience that we're talking about.

    • 27:51

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And the average consumer is reasonablycautious and circumspect and smart about advertising.They're not complete fools.They're not totally gullible.So we all know that advertising is about companies puttingtheir best foot forward.We know that.We know that they're going to paint the productor service to their advertising in the best light.

    • 28:17

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And that's OK.We understand that.But when they go further and they make a, for example,performance claim about a product that isn't true,or that they are unable to prove, that's where we come in.There's a well-understood distinctionin legal terms between what's called puffery or mere puffby the law court-- and those are sort of idle boasts, claims,expressions of the advertiser's opinion, that people seeing adare unlikely to think as being provedwith documentary evidence.

    • 28:60

      GUY PARKER [continued]: We have the best fish and chips in Halifax, for example--and claims that people are likely to regardas being proved by evidence.And the differences can be quite subtle.Voted the best fish and chips in Halifax,is likely to be regulated by us in a different wayto, our fish and chips is the best, whichI think with the latter, most people would just think,ah they're just boasting, they'rejust expressing their opinion about that product.

    • 29:33

      GUY PARKER [continued]: I'm not going to read any more into it than that.With the former claim, people wouldexpect there to have been some poll that shows that their fishand chips were better.[What are the main challenges the Advertising StandardsAuthority face, and how do you deal with those challenges?]Some of the challenges that the ASA faces, and this is probablycommon to advertising regulators around the world,are, how do we respond to these major, major changesin technology?

    • 30:04

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And how do we respond to big changes in society?So with the first of those technological changes,I mean it used to be the case that we saw or heard adson TV or radio, in newspapers and magazines,and on billboards.

    • 30:25

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And that was pretty well it.For all of those, you've got companies that are effectivelygatekeepers.You got the TV and radio broadcasterswho are selling the air time to advertisers,and can help the ASA to police the advertising.

    • 30:46

      GUY PARKER [continued]: They can deny the space if a company'srefusing to play by the rules.You've got the newspapers and magazineswho can exercise the same sort of gatekeeper rolein the print media.And the same with the outdoor media companies, the postercontractors.The world is very different now.Anyone can advertise at almost no cost.

    • 31:08

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Anyone can create a website, for example,and can make claims for whatever product or servicethey're selling, or whatever cause or idea they're selling.Anyone can do that.And a lot of that advertising's is covered by the advertisingcodes and unsurprisingly, quite a lot of these advertisers,these very small advertisers, don't realize it.That's a real challenge for us.

    • 31:29

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And the way we respond to that challengeis not to wield the big stick at people that are advertising--who hadn't for a second thought of themselves as advertisers--but to adopt much more of an education rolethat explains why it's important to play by the rules.Tell them what the rules are.Help them, provide them with access to our online resources,for example, that will allow them to very easily searchfor guidance on the do's and don'ts of advertising, X, Y,or Z. And through those sorts of approaches,try to make sure that their advertising stays responsible.

    • 32:06

      GUY PARKER [continued]: On the societal side of things, society is ever more diverse,and that's a good thing.But it does make it harder to read how societyis likely to respond to issues.So we have to be fleet-footed, wehave to be quite a bit more targeted,about the decisions we take.For example, saying that, that ad is not OK in those mediabut it's likely to be OK in those media.

    • 32:33

      GUY PARKER [continued]: That poster is OK when it's placed on certain poster sites,but it's unlikely to be OK in other poster sites,for example, sites within 250 meters of schools.There are some quite nuanced and subtle thingsthat we do as a result of these challenges.

    • 32:54

      GUY PARKER [continued]: [How often do you work with third parties when conductinginvestigations?]When we ask companies to provide us with evidenceto support their, for example, performanceclaims for their product, we will very oftenget a dossier of evidence.

    • 33:16

      GUY PARKER [continued]: It can consist of quite technical research, quitetechnical study, sometimes clinical studies purportingto prove health claims, or claimsthat cosmetics can get rid of wrinkles, or whatever.We have developed, over the years, experience at assessingthat sort of evidence.

    • 33:36

      GUY PARKER [continued]: We're good at it.We have a good idea of what good evidence looks like.So very often we'll be able to make judgmentson whether the evidence is acceptable or not ourselves.But we do also rely on outside expert consultantsin the various fields that advertising touches on,and we will often ask for their expert view on really technicalevidence that we don't have the technical understandingto judge ourselves.

    • 34:17

      GUY PARKER [continued]: At the end of the day, though, it's always stillthe ASA Council that will take the final decision, I mean,very often heavily influenced by the testimonyfrom an external consultant who we've used.But we're very clear when we engagewith these outside suppliers, withthese external consultants, that we'reinterested in their view on, for example,the science, the science of how a food supplement islikely to work, whether or not it's going to actually deliverthe benefits that the advertiser says,or whether a cosmetic cream is goingto deliver the performance that is being claimed in the ad.

    • 34:52

      GUY PARKER [continued]: We want their view on the science,whether the studies proves the client.We're not interested in their viewon how that claim is likely to be understood by the audiencebecause that's our area of expertise.[What are some of the highlights of working in advertisingregulation?]The highlights of the work that I do,I mean it's endlessly interesting,work in this advertising world, because it's constantlychanging.

    • 35:22

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And you're constantly tackling advertising regulationchallenges to do with the latest thing.So a few years ago, it was deciding whether or notclaims in campaigners' leaflets against fracking that was beingdeveloped for exploring do fracking in their local area,it was deciding whether or not their claims about frackingand the dangers of fracking were true.

    • 35:53

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And this is a right at the forefront of frackingbeing an issue in UK society.I mean, that's fascinating to be gettingright into the nitty gritty of the benefits and dis-benefitsof these sorts of issues, right at the startof the public debate.

    • 36:16

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Another highlight for me has been juston the general leadership and managementside, leading an organization that is changingand is having to change.We have a five-year strategy, whichis all about being more proactiveand having more impact.

    • 36:40

      GUY PARKER [continued]: We're having to change the way we do thingsbecause advertising is changing.Society is changing.And particularly technology is changing.The things that have worked very well for usin the past we can no longer say with enough certaintyare going to work for us for the next five years.So we've got to really embrace that change and tackle it.

    • 36:60

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And that's good fun.I mean, that's a big job but it'sa real challenge, a real personal challenge,trying to make sure that we are ahead of the curve,and are not lagging behind it.And another big highlight has beenworking with people in the industry,working with colleagues, seeing them grow,seeing them become leaders themselves.

    • 37:23

      GUY PARKER [continued]: That's been a big personal highlight for me.[Is there anything you wish you had known when you were juststarting out?]I wish I'd known when I was youngerthat whining and moaning closes doors,and putting a smile on your face and adoptinga positive attitude opens doors.

    • 37:46

      GUY PARKER [continued]: So I think that's a good metric to hold in your head.On the professional side, and this applies perhaps moreto people that are watching this who are based in the UK,there are very, very simple and easy thingsthat you can do to plug yourself into the ASA and the waywe're regulating if you're in the advertising or mediabusinesses.

    • 38:13

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And the easiest thing perhaps to dois just follow us on Twitter @ASA_UK and from thereyou will find out lots of other wayswhere you can stay in touch without stickingthat cost to yourself.[Who funds the Advertising Standards Authority?]So the Advertising Standards Authorityis actually a self-regulatory body.

    • 38:37

      GUY PARKER [continued]: In fact, it's a mix of self-regulationon a non-broadcast side and carrierregulation with Off com on the broadcast side.But what is common to both sides of the systemis that advertisers fund the ASA.Advertisers fund their own regulation.And by advertisers, I mean obviouslycompanies that are advertising, and Imean the bigger companies.

    • 39:01

      GUY PARKER [continued]: They fund the system by paying a levy, a 0.1% levyon display advertising.There are some other bits and pieces of funding,but the main funding comes from 0.1% levyon display advertisements.So every one pound spent on TV airtime or radio airtimeor poster sites or print ads, every one pound in 1,000is collected by a separate body, called the AdvertisingStandards Board of Finance.

    • 39:31

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And it's from that body that we get our annual budget.The only part of the ASA system that is voluntaryis its funding.Saying that, around 80% pay, and thatmakes sure that we can do the job that we need to do,keeping ads responsible.We don't know which individual advertisers volunteerto pay the levy, although we know it's most of them.

    • 39:57

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And that's important from the perspective of making surethat we're operating at an arm's length from our funding.But anyone that follows the ASA and sees the rulingsthat we publish every Wednesday on the ASA website,it's very unlikely to think that we're in the industry's pocketbecause very often it's some of the biggestcompanies in the world that are finding themselves in troubleand having to make changes to their ads becauseof our decisions.

    • 40:24

      GUY PARKER [continued]: The way the funding works on the online site is the 0.1%,that it does apply to online display advertising.So there is a small but significant contributionfrom there.A big part of online advertising is actuallysearch, paid search advertising.

    • 40:47

      GUY PARKER [continued]: And the biggest company in that areais Google by a country mile.So there are lots of discussions at the moment about howto make sure that the industry future proofsthe funding for the ASA to make sure that we continueto do a good job regulating advertising, giventhe structural changes in the advertising industry,with more money, more advertising budget moneymoving online.

    • 41:13

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Including to paid search.[In your opinion, what are going to be the most likelychallenges in the future?]One of the challenges that I thinkwe're going to face in the UK, increasingly in the UKparticularly, while this is a big issue in Europeand in other parts of the world, perhaps a bigger issuethere than it is with us, is the issue of gender stereotyping.

    • 41:41

      GUY PARKER [continued]: Is it OK to show in your supermarket adthe mum going out and doing the shopping?That does still represent how most shopping isdone in the UK, but we have a younger generation growing upin the UK, increasingly thinking it's notOK to, as they would put it, gender stereotype in that way.

    • 42:03

      GUY PARKER [continued]: So what you do as an advertising regulatorwhen you've got an issue like gender betrayal and genderstereotyping, where one part of the populationthinks one thing, and another part of the populationis increasingly thinking something else?At what stage does an ad that's depicting that sort of genderbehavior go from being just a betrayalthat some people might think's a bit off to onethat should be stopped?

    • 42:35

      GUY PARKER [continued]: It's a real issue and it's an emerging issue in the UK.[With thanks to the IPA London IPAPromoting the value of agencies][SAGE video SAGE Publications 2015]

Guy Parker - Advertising Regulation

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Abstract

This video covers the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and its role within TV, radio, print, posters, direct marketing, leaflets and online advertising in the United Kingdom. With a focus on legal, decent, honest and truthful advertisement, the ASA provides rules for the industry and checks and balances to enforce and ensure all are fairly representing their products per an evolving and changing society.

SAGE Video Experts
Guy Parker - Advertising Regulation

This video covers the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and its role within TV, radio, print, posters, direct marketing, leaflets and online advertising in the United Kingdom. With a focus on legal, decent, honest and truthful advertisement, the ASA provides rules for the industry and checks and balances to enforce and ensure all are fairly representing their products per an evolving and changing society.

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