Ad Standards launches copy advice service for advertisers

Industry watchdog Ad Standards has launched an online advice service providing guidance to help advertisers avoid falling foul of the advertising code of ethics.

The service, which will start at $110 per review, will check proposed advertising material in advance of broadcast or production and provide confidential advice flagging potential issues with the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) codes.

The service will be open to all advertisers, including small and medium businesses, creative agencies and the media for copy advice from the early stages of a campaign’s development.

Similar services offered by industry bodies such as the AANA and Outdoor Media Association are only available to members, while Ad Standards’ offering is open to all marketers.

Fiona Jolly, chief executive officer of Ad Standards said in a media statement: “Advertisers want to do the right thing and ensure their advertising material complies with the codes.

“The new copy advice service aims to improve industry understanding of the various codes regulating advertising content, and thereby to reduce the broadcast or publication of material which offends the community.

“The AANA code of ethics and other codes apply to advertising in all media, and so advertisers will be able to obtain advice about their advertising campaigns across all media – from print to outdoor, radio, cinema, internet, social media or television.”

Update: In response to Mumbrella’s questions about the new service, an Ad Standards spokesperson provided the following replies.

  • If an advertiser implements all the advice made by the service, is there a guarantee the ads will not be subject to upheld complaints?
    – The provision of copy advice by Ad Standards will not eliminate the receipt of complaints from the community nor will Copy Advice given be binding on the Community Panel. This is an advice service, rather than a pre-clearance service and is not legal advice. The copy advice service has been developed in line with international best practice and is intended as a proactive service to assist advertisers in identifying potential code issues prior to an advertisement being broadcast.
  • Will the community panel consider advice given by this service when considering a complaint?
    – The Community Panel is independent from the copy advice process.  The copy advice provided by Ad Standards will not be shared with the Community Panel and in line with international best practice, the advice provided will not bind the Community Panel in its complaint adjudication responsibilities.
  • If an ad that has been reviewed under the service get banned, will the advertiser get their money back?
    – The provision of copy advice will not prevent community complaints nor prevent the Community Panel from upholding complaints against advertisements that have been given copy advice.  The Community Panel is independent and at arms-length from the copy advice process. To reiterate, the copy advice service that Ad Standards is offering is an informed opinion on Code issues/community concerns that may be raised by the content of the proposed advertisement.
  • What will advertisers get for the basic $110 service?
    – $110 covers a ‘Standard Request’, this is a request on no more than 2 similar media touchpoints and the submission amounts to no more than 1500 words (or the equivalent of four pages in a standard Word document), and up to 4 pages of a website. Once submitted, a response from Ad Standards will be delivered within 2 business days and will highlight which sections of the Codes the content of the advertisement may give rise to concern and will provide broad guidance on content that is in line with past decisions of the Community Panel.
  • At what stage of an ad’s development will advertisers be able to submit an advert — eg: at concept, during scripting, in post-production?
    – Advertisers can submit content at any stage of the creative process prior to publication or broadcast. We will accept concepts, imagery, copy or campaigns across all mediums.  The nature and detail of copy advice provided will be based on the nature and detail of the material submitted.  The more refined the advertisement development, the more refined the level of copy advice can be.
  • Does Ad Standards see this service as reducing the workload on the community panel?
    – In line with international best practice, the provision of copy advice is not about reducing the workload of the Community Panel, but rather offering a proactive service aimed at improving overall advertising standards by identifying content that may breach the prevailing advertiser codes prior to broadcast or publication and through that an opportunity to work together with advertisers and assist industry understanding of the Codes.

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