The Advertising Standards Authority will consider complaints about any advertisement in any medium.
Self-Regulation / Government Regulation
Self-regulation in the advertising sector is the recognition of the advertising industry (advertisers, agencies and the media) that advertising should comply with a set of ethical rules, namely that it should be legal, decent, honest and truthful, prepared with a sense of social responsibility to the consumer and society as a whole and with due respect to the rules of fair competition.
Advertising in New Zealand is regulated by the ASA Codes of Practice and its complaints process, working within the legal framework provided by a number of Acts and Regulations that restrict advertising. A number of government agencies that administer legislation are therefore senior jurisdictions are the ASA.
Acts that restrict advertising include:
- Fair Trading Act
- Medicines Act
- Gambling Act
- Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act
- Smokefree Environments Act
- Prostitution Reform Act
- Electoral Act
- Financial Markets Act
Self-regulation is a cost effective and efficient way of dealing with a range of complaints about advertising. Government regulation provides a legal back-stop to deal with more serious advertising breaches.
What is an advertisement?
The word “advertisement” is to be taken in its broadest sense to embrace any form of advertising and includes advertising which promotes the interest of any person, product or service, imparts information, educates, or advocates an idea, belief, political viewpoint or opportunity. The definition includes advertising in all traditional media and new media such as online advertising, including websites and social media platforms when used for commercial purposes. Emails and SMS messaging that are selling or promoting a product, service, idea or opportunity are also covered by the codes, as are neck labels and promotions attached to a product Other examples include posters, pamphlets and billboards (whether stationary or mobile) and addressed or unaddressed mail.
Television and Radio Programme Promotions
Under the Broadcasting Act, programme promotions, which advertise upcoming programmes or the channel’s brand, are under the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Standards Authority, see www.bsa.govt.nz.
The ASA process deals with advertising. However, for pre-packaged and bulk alcoholic drinks with an alcoholic strength above 1.15% it also covers naming, labelling, packaging and promotion, including sponsorship.
Packaging of other products is outside the ASA’s jurisdiction. Packaging is covered by some government agencies and these include:
- Food: Food Standards Code – Ministry for Primary Industries
- Medicines: Medicines Act – Medsafe
- Consumer products: Fair Trading Act – Commerce Commission
Product / Company Names
The ASA does not deal with complaints about product / company names, in isolation. There may be circumstances when the name of a product or company creates an issue when used in advertising, however, the ASA does not have jurisdiction to require a company to change the name of its product or brand (with the exception of alcohol products, see the Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol).