Come September 2003, the UK’s leading marketing trade body will have a new code of practice. Seven years on from the last edition, there are big changes and a new agenda for the DMA.
Topic: Direct marketing
Who: Direct Marketing Association
When: September 2003
Following the example of the Committee of Advertising Practice, which launched the new edition of its CAP code in March 2003, the UK's premier marketing industry body, the Direct Marketing Association, has published a new edition of its own code. This new, third edition will be in force from September 2003. It will replace the second edition which was published back in 1996, and it has taken a year to produce.
Running to over 100 pages, the code takes into account new legislation, and technologies, practices and standards that have appeared and developed over the intervening seven years. It has a new structure and format, new sections and incorporates an extensive section on on-line marketing, including useful practices on marketing on-line to children, which were previously in a separate document.
A new layout makes it more accessible and easier to use as reference. Whilst the second edition had twelve sections, only one of which dealt with a specific type of communication (telephone) the new edition has 21 sections, 12 of which deal with particular channels including e-mail marketing, SMS, inserts, fax, direct response TV and radio, catalogue and home shopping as well as on-line and SMS.
Members are encouraged to refer to the particular section that deals with the channel of communication relevant to them and read that in conjunction with the general provisions. These deal with general issues such as data handling compliance and content.
Why this matters:
Compliance with the DMA code is compulsory for all DMA members, who face castigation and in serious cases expulsion if they fail to comply.
It has to be said, however, that to date only one member has been expelled for failing to comply with the code, and the case load has not been heavy. The complaints referred to the Direct Marketing Authority in 2001 for example, numbered only 152, with only 9 needing adjudication.
So the DMA has to work harder at raising the profile of its code and of its sister, enforcement body the Direct Marketing Authority. They must also be more public in their handling of complaints and the publication of adjudications. In this way they can square the circle of needing to process sufficient numbers of complaints to be credible, but not too many to suggest mass non-compliance.
There are additional pressures on the DMA to raise their compliance game. The Office of Fair Trading is on the warpath against particular industry sectors, and direct marketing is one of them. To reduce the risk of further, more intrusive legislation in the area, the OFT is looking for the industry to up its act, introduce a robust and enforceable code and walk the talk.
To help this process, the OFT has established a benchmark for industry codes, and the DMA will be seeking OFT approval against that benchmark for the new edition of the code.
To have a chance of achieving this, it must also show established systems for compliance and enforcement.
This is going to involve all of its members having to pay more than just lip service to code compliance: DMA members are now required to lodge certification with the DMA, each year, that they have appointed a compliance officer to take responsibility for the member's compliance who will make it their job to have a thorough knowledge of the provisions of the code and all relevant legislation. They will also be required to complete the annual compliance questionnaire, which all members must now submit to the DMA as part of the new certification process.
At the present time, the DMA is holding a series of "roadshows" in which, over half a day, members are told about the new code, the new compliance and certification regime, the role of the Direct Marketing Authority and the various preference services which the DM Authority operates. These sessions are invaluable for both members and non-members, and attendance is in fact compulsory for all DMA members, as their appointed compliance officer must certify in the required questionnaire that the course has been attended.
As DMA members, Osborne Clarke is taking part in this process and it wishes the DMA well in promoting the best interests of the UK direct marketing industry in the UK as well as protecting the interests of consumers.