Less than a month before the 23 April date when the new Comparative Advertising Regulations were due to become law in the UK, the ITC announced its intention to amend its Code of Advertising Standards and Practice so as to bring the sections covering comparative advertising into line with the new requirements.
Who: ITC and IPA
When: April 2000
Less than a month before the 23 April date when the new Comparative Advertising Regulations were due to become law in the UK, the ITC announced its intention to amend its Code of Advertising Standards and Practice so as to bring the sections covering comparative advertising into line with the new requirements. By mid May, the ITC indicated, it proposed to essentially transpose the material parts of the Directive into the Code. The announcement precipitated protests from ad agency "union" the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, who said the ITC should wait until the "inconsistencies" of the new rules are ironed out in the courts before updating the Code. The ITC is considering this and other representations made to it before deciding whether to go ahead with the changes.
Why this matters:
marketinglaw.co.uk has been saying for some time that the only way to minimise litigation over the new knocking copy rules (unhelpfully called the Control of Misleading Advertisements (Amendment) Regulations 2000) is to bring the existing "self regulatory" codes into line with the new regulations. This is because the rules make it clear that the OFT will not feel constrained to take court action unless established means of controlling advertising in the UK such as the broadcast ad control system based on the ITC Code and the print ad control system operated by the Advertising Standards Authority and the Committee of Advertising Practice, have been unable to deal with the problem. In the light of this it is odd that the ASA and the CAP failed to grasp the obvious opportunity to align the British Code of Advertising with the new Regulations when it completed a general overhaul of the Code last year and a relief that the ITC have albeit belatedly taken the lead. As for the IPA’s comments, it seems odd that a body purportedly in favour of industry and self regulation should be suggesting the Courts resolve any lack of clarity in the new rules in expensive and messy intra-industry litigation before industry codes are changed.