Internationally, there have been self-regulatory codes and standards since the early 1920’s. In New Zealand, the Committee of Advertising Practice was established in 1973 by the Newspaper Publishers Association, the NZ Broadcasting Commission and the Accredited Advertising Agencies Association. The name was changed to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and it was incorporated in 1990. It now has 14 member organisations representing advertisers, agencies and the media.
Self-regulation encourages the industry to take responsibility to ensure legal, decent and honest advertising communications to consumers. There are a number of incentives. Most advertisers do not want to deliberately mislead or offend current or potential customers. They understand the importance of responsible advertising of restricted products and engage with pre-vetting processes and code-compliance prior to the release / publication of advertising. If consumers trust advertising, it is more effective. Advertising self-regulation also works best alongside a legislative framework and in New Zealand there are about 50 different pieces of legislation that restrict advertising in some way.
The three main objectives are:
- To seek to maintain at all times and in all media a proper and generally acceptable standard of advertising and to ensure that advertising is not misleading or deceptive, either by statement or by implication.
- To establish and promote an effective system of voluntary self-regulation in respect to advertising standards.
- To establish and fund an Advertising Standards Complaints Board.
Independent Complaints and Appeal Boards
The Advertising Standards Complaints Board and the Advertising Standards Complaints Appeal Board both have a public member majority and a public member Chair. The ASA membership has no involvement in the work of the Boards. The Complaints Board has nine members, five public and four industry and meets fortnightly. The Appeal Board has three members, two public and one industry and meets on demand.
There is a Code of Ethics and eleven subject codes. The majority of complaints raise issues relating to misleading advertising followed by matters of social responsibility (often about ad placement) and offensiveness.
The ASA has five staff and a budget of about $800,000 per annum. It is funded from member subscriptions and advertiser levies. The ASA dealt with over 1100 queries in 2016 including 586 complaints and provided advice on compliance for 273 ads.
Member organisations of the ASA
- Association of New Zealand Advertisers (Inc)
- Communication Agencies Association of New Zealand
- Community Newspapers
- Interactive Advertising Bureau of New Zealand
- Letterbox Media
- Magazine Publishers’ Association (Inc)
- Marketing Association (Inc)
- Newspaper Publishers’ Association of New Zealand (Inc)
- New Zealand Cinema
- New Zealand Post
- Think TV
- Outdoor Media Advertising Association (NZ)
- Pay TV Group
- Radio Broadcasters Association (Inc)
The ASA is a member of The International Council for Ad Self-Regulation (ICAS). This is a global platform which promotes effective advertising self-regulation. The ASA is also recognised by Complaint Line NZ as an agency that provides the New Zealand public with complaint resolution processes.