The advertising standards authority (ASA) are an independent regulatory body and principal authority of all advertising on television and radio in the UK. The first form of the ASA known as the CAP (Committee of advertising practice) was created in 1961.
The main purpose of the ASA is to regulate all adverts and commercial promotions on media platforms in the UK. The platforms the cover are magazine and newspaper advertisements, Television and Radio, TV shopping channels, internet advertisements and cinema commercials. They do this to protect the public from offensive or harmful content.
The ASA acts on complaints and checks the media to take action against misleading or offensive advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing. The ASA have five ‘strands’ to their strategy for regulating adverts; their first strategy is understanding this means that they will listen to the general publics complaints about certain adverts and take action if necessary while being firm but fair throughout. Their second strategy is support this says that they will help and support advertisers to create responsible ads and will give advice to advertisers on what guidelines to keep within to avoid there advert being pulled from television or radio. Their 3rd strategy is impact this says they will spend more time on adverts that cause a bigger impact such as adverts that blatantly break the rules rather than focusing all their time on adverts that don’t specifically break any rules. Proactive is their 4th strategy this says that they will use a wide range of information to make sure adverts are responsible with what they put in them. Their final strategy is awareness this says that they will do what they can to promote awareness of the ASA so people know who they are and can contact them if needed. The ASA take many factors in to consideration before they make a ruling on an advert, such as the impact the adverts have on people, could it offend people, how widespread would the offence be and who exactly would be impacted by this. Other things that the ASA take in to consideration are how the content could be interpreted such as the 2016 case on a ‘Captain Morgan’ advert that implied alcohol will boost your confidence which was seen to encourage the use of alcohol for non-recreational reasons.
The ASA over time has pulled or banned multiple adverts. One of the most famous cases was the banning of a series of adverts in Barnardo’s “silver spoon” campaign from 2002-2003. This campaign was to raise awareness of child poverty but the adverts were found to be distressing and featured very powerful imagery. These adverts were banned for the distressing images which featured babies with multiple products protruding from their moves such as a syringe, a cockroach and a bottle of methylated spirits. these adverts attracted 466 complaints which caused the ASA to look in to the adverts. The ASA decided that these adverts were “likely to cause serious or widespread offence” this breached their regulations and caused them.