Who: Committee of Advertising Practice
When: March 2013
Law stated as at: 3 April 2013
What happened: The Committee of Advertising Practice or “CAP” is the sister body to the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”).
CAP writes the Codes which the ASA administers and from time to time provides guidance and training on how to comply with the Codes.
CAP also provides free copy advice on ads and co-ordinates
enforcement of ASA rulings.
In March 2013, CAP announced a “Consistency” initiative.
It told stakeholders that it strived to ensure that the advertising standards it set and the rulings reached by the ASA had proper regard to consistency.
Transparency key to consistency drive
Transparency was a key part of its efforts to achieve this, CAP said, for example in how it consulted on new rules and in the way the ASA
In this spirit, CAP made it clear that it was committed to dealing with “every significant incident of regulatory inconsistency under our control”.
Kicking off an open-ended consultation exercise, it invited feedback from businesses who might feel that the requirements imposed on them by CAP conflicted with other legal or regulatory restrictions or that CAP advice differed from advice received from other regulators.
An acknowledgement within 5 working days was promised as was
making it a priority to tackle the issue if a valid point of inconsistency was identified.
Why this matters:
CAP is to be applauded for setting out its stall so clearly.
Does consultation extend to ASA rulings?
But does the consultation extend to ASA rulings?
This seems unlikely despite references to ASA rulings in the CAP paper.
Despite inconsistency between one ASA ruling and another probably being the biggest concern of many stakeholders, it would seem… inconsistent… if this type of inconsistency were part of the consultation.
This is because this is a CAP consultation and it is an essential part of the system that the ad industry body CAP plays no role in final rulings on whether the CAP Code has been breached by the ASA, a body independent of the marketing business.
Consultation outcome to be made public?
The CAP announcement does not indicate whether it proposes to publicise the outcome of its investigations if valid points of inconsistency are identified, but since transparency is made so much of in the announcement, presumably some visibility will be given as the process unfolds.
*Osborne Clarke’s own consistency survey
In the meantime, for those who might be interested in earlier insights into stakeholders’ views on the issue, Osborne Clarke is running its own survey into attitudes to CAP consistency and also extending it to ASA rulings. Click here to participate and stand by for the survey results, which will of course be anonymised.