The Committeee of Advertising Practice, which works alongside the Advertising Standards Authority, says the ‘General Media Panel”s remit now covers broadcast media as well. Its announcement also underlines the key part the GMP could play in whether a complaint is upheld, if complainants or defending advertisers want to play that card.
Topic: Media panel's "Phone a friend" function
Who: Committee of Advertising Practice
When: August 2006
The Committee of Advertising Practice ("CAP"), sister body to the Advertising Standards Authority ("ASA"), announced an expansion in the role of the General Media Panel ("GMP"). In so doing it highlighted an underplayed part that the GMP can potentially play in the process by which the ASA reaches decisions as to whether to uphold complaints that advertising breaches the advertising codes.
According to the CAP, the GMP is "a panel of industry experts that guides the Executive on Code interpretation." Traditionally its role has been for instance to help the ASA and the CAP produce advice for the industry on non broadcast advertisements. It also provides "a forum to assess recommendations to the ASA Council" as to whether a complaint in respect of an advertisement should be upheld.
Up until recently the GMP's remit extended only to non broadcast advertising. Now following the extension of the ASA/CAP self regulatory system to broadcast advertising, the decision has been taken to expand the GMP's duties in a similar way.
The GMP has been enlarged to reflect its new roles and these will include:
· offering CAP advice on Help Notes, other Guidance and Ad Alerts;
· advice on the handling of controversial or complex matters affecting the interpretation of the Codes;
· recommend to the CAP or Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice the convening of ad hoc working groups to oversee revisions if the broadcast or non broadcast Codes are in need of modification or general review;
"Phone a friend" role
And perhaps most worthy of note for advertisers involved in complaints to the ASA or unwelcome CAP copy advice:
· on request from complainants, marketers or their representatives, assess the Executive's recommendations (before the ASA Council adjudicates); and
· consider the conformity of marketing communications to the CAP Code if a second opinion on pre-publication copy advice is requested by a marketer, an agency, the media or the Executive.
As those advertisers who have been on the wrong end of a complaint to the ASA will know, once the arguments on both sides have been submitted, the CAP Executive reaches a provisional view as to whether the complaint should be upheld. It then shares that view with the advertiser and complaining party and invites any final comments before the draft recommendation is submitted to the ASA Council with all the papers for their determination.
Mostly the ASA Council follows the draft recommendation, but not always, and advertisers or complainants who are unhappy with a CAP recommendation should always consider taking the step of requesting that the GMP assesses (and second guesses) the CAP's approach and submits its findings to the ASA Council with the remaining papers, which will be the standard procedure.
Why this matters
This role and the related role of providing on request from agencies or advertisers a "second opinion" on CAP copy advice look likely to attract ever greater interest from advertisers dissatisfied with CAP views.
This may be particularly so as this "Phone a friend" role appears, at least as far as draft recommendations in respect of complaints are concerned, to now extend to broadcast advertising as well as non broadcast.