Ad body demands end to small print and e-cig ban

e-cigarette-advertThe Advertising Association has made the controversial step of calling on the Government to repeal two key EU laws which it claims have had a detrimental effect on the business – namely the ban on e-cigarette ads and the need for finance firms to include “small print” – in the wake of the Brexit win.
In a letter to the Business Secretary Sajid Javid, and Culture, Media and Sport Secretary John Whittingdale, AA chief executive Tim Lefroy outlined UK advertising’s concerns and demands post-referendum.
In it, he calls for a de-regulatory outlook, including committing the Financial Conduct Authority to roll-back mandatory ‘legals & supers’ requirements in the Consumer Credit Directive.
“Supers” is the term applied to text superimposed onto TV ads to provide additional information, usually because it is required to be there for legal or regulatory purposes, in other words the “small print”. It is also a requirement for press and poster ads, as well as direct mail.
The requirement was introduced to protect consumers from wayward promises being made by many financial services and broadband firms. This has been enshrined in UK advertising and consumer law since 2005, and has triggered thousands of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA is currently conducting a review into misleading broadband advertising. Any change in the law would need Parliamentary approval.
As would lifting the ban on e-cigarette advertising, which came into force in May this year as part of the EU Tobacco Products Directive.
E-cigarette ads are no longer be allowed across TV, radio, print (except for trade publications), and online display, although they are permitted in cinema, out of home, point of sale and sales promotions.
Rather less controversially, Lefroy also calls for continued advertising self-regulation. Specifically, that Government will not impose advertising bans related to public health issues, but collaborate with industry to achieve better health outcomes and avoid non-evidence based appeasement to campaign groups for ‘optical’ effects.
The AA has also identified three other principles identified as key to advertising post-Brexit:
– EU policies, including Data Protection Regulation, AVMS, e-privacy and consumer laws, will remain important for companies trading into the single market. The Government must work with industry to find the best way of negotiating to maintain good outcomes
– To maximise exports to and inward investment from Europe and the rest of the world, UK advertising will require a clear Government strategy, including well-designed, flexible immigration policy
– Retaining control over the timing and conditions of exit will enable the UK to maximise access to the single market from outside. The decision not to invoke Article 50 until at least after the new Prime Minister is welcome.
Lefroy said: “Advertising is the second largest creative Industry, but more importantly it’s an economic activity and bellwether for the economy as a whole. Advertiser confidence should be a high priority for Government and a clear commitment to these principles would send an immediate, positive signal.”

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