The ASA rules in disputes about whether a marketing campaign or activity is legal, decent, truthful and honest. Recently this remit extended online.
From a cynical perspective, does The ASA limit creativity in protecting consumers? Does this actually just create an open season where competing companies simply complain about each others claims to try and gain a moral advantage in the marketplace?
It seems that Facebook and Twitter are going to be prioritised simply because of their meteoric rise in a few years and due to the sheer numbers of users and increasing number of brands using them for promotional purposes.
But The ASA is clear that it is not interested in policing spontaneous customer interaction, engagement and customer service. Rather, it is in two areas: claims being made, and the use of user-generated content by marketers.
The ASA deal with many false claim cases, ranging from the unavailability of goods despite being advertised as such to specific product benefits that may be implied but can not be proven.
Brands have to be mindful of using user-generated content. Ministry of Sound fell foul of this when younger clubbers posted photos of themselves attending clubnights holding alcoholic drinks which gave the illusion of under-age drinking. Rules affect food claims, pharmaceuticals and other areas too.
Sponsorships and endorsements on social media also need to be clearly labelled, with a case involving Rolls Royce cited as a warning. Rolls Royce used a number of celebrities including the model Daisy Lowe as Twitter ambassadors for the brand.
The ASA argued it wasn’t citing creativity and reminded the audience that the advertising industry had asked for greater clarity to ensure a level playing field.
What do you think?