Ad watchdog demands photographic proof of offensive car ads before it will investigate

The advertising watchdog has announced it will no longer investigate complaints about offensive car, truck and van liveries without photographic evidence of the vehicle.

Complaints about offensive vehicle signage will have to be supported by photographs

In addition, for the first time in its history the ASB will have legislative support for its rulings, after the Queensland government passed new laws which will deregister vehicles that do not comply with ASB rulings.

The Advertising Standards Bureau announced it would now require photos to proceed with a complaint, rather than accept written evidence, as breaches of the code are often impossible to prove without visuals.

ASB CEO Fiona Jolly said the change was an attempt to make it easier for the ASB to follow up complaints

“Often it can be difficult to identify a vehicle or advertiser from a written description alone,” Jolly said.

“While the majority of advertisers support the system and voluntarily provide photos of their vehicles to us, occasionally we do come across an advertiser who will not respond.

“In these cases, without a copy of the advertisement, the Board is unable to consider the complaint.”

Fiona Jolly will see ASB rulings backed by state government legislation for the first time

Vehicle signage has proven to be one of the ASB’s most troublesome sectors with Wicked Campers ignoring a series adverse rulings against it over several years.

In the face of advertisers ignoring ASB rulings the Queensland state government has introduced legislation that will deregister vehicles if they do not comply with an ASB ruling within 14 days.

The Queensland legislation is the first time in its history that ASB rulings will be enforced through government legislation.

A spokesperson for the ASB said that the de-registration would happen after the ASB had exhausted all its enforcement efforts.

The spokesperson said the ASB had been contacted by other state government departments looking at how they might also enforce rulings and stop advertisers breaching the Queensland laws “jurisdiction hopping”.

Jolly said complaints would still be accepted in the normal way through the ASB website and then complainants would be contacted to provide photos.

She said photographic evidence could also be useful in other complaints, such as pop-up ads online which could often be difficult for staff to locate even with a link.


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