Who: Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”)
When:23 November 2015
Law stated as at: 11 December 2015
Back in November 2014, we reported that the ASA was launching a public consultation on its new Prioritisation Principles (here) (“Principles“), with the response to the consultation being published in February 2015.
The response confirmed that the four main suggested Principles would remain in their current pre-consultation form, namely the consideration of:
- what harm or detriment has occurred or might occur;
- the risk of action versus inaction;
- the likely impact of intervention by the ASA; and
- what resource would be proportionate to the problem to be tackled.
Since the publication of the response in February, the ASA has been deciding how to put the Prioritisation Principles into practice and develop new ways of working so that the Principles will guide their work.
On 16 November 2015, the ASA announced that the Principles would be put into use from 23 November 2015 in helping the ASA decide how to deal with complaints or information it has received.
Why this matters:
As of 23 November 2015, the ASA has been applying the Principles to help it decide how to tackle the complaints it receives and to help determine what resource it will use towards doing so. The ASA will be focusing on areas that have the greater potential for detriment or harm and, consequently, will be spending less time on cases that do not have a significant impact on consumers.
The Principles reflect the values set out in the ASA’s latest five year strategy. The new approach shows that the ASA recognises the need to be flexible by making greater use of guidance as an alternative to conducting a formal investigation. For instance, the ASA has introduced the option of writing to advertisers and explaining what action should be carried out, rather than waiting for their formal response in the first instance.
For advertisers, this is important because the Principles indicate that the ASA will be aiming to cut down the number of formal investigations it carries out. Formal investigations result in published adjudications and the ability to resolve more matters without the threat of potential negative publicity will be a relief for many brands. The ASA’s new process provides greater flexibility and hopefully, in the long run, will lead to a better relationship between the regulator and advertisers and allow the ASA to focus its resources on areas where consumers are most at risk.