ASA Newsletter: June 2020

It’s been a busy few months for the Advertising Standards Authority, and this edition includes the following updates on ASA activities:

1. Update from the CEO
2. Annual Report 2019
3. The most complained about ads of 2019
4. Advertising Turnover 2019
5. Update on election advertising

If you have any questions regarding the content of this newsletter please don’t hesitate to email us at

Update from the CEO

The last three months has seen New Zealand enter unprecedented territory as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact on New Zealanders has been evident at the ASA, with a rise in complaints as consumers had time to access more media platforms and were alert to advertising in the current environment. We prioritised complaints related to COVID-19 and implemented a process to fast track complaints about ads with misleading or inaccurate claims in order to protect vulnerable audiences. To proactively support advertisers during the lockdown, we released AdHelp guidance on therapeutic products and services, and alcohol advertising.

To date, we have received over 22 complaints related to COVID-19 issues, ranging from organic foods, natural health products, sanitiser, and even furniture. Eleven advertisements have been removed or altered to comply with the Advertising Codes.

We continue to work closely with advertisers on the complaints we receive and acknowledge the efficient way in which the industry takes self-regulatory action in response to complaints if there is a case to answer.

We offer a range of customised training options for advertisers, should you wish to learn more about the Advertising Codes and how they apply in your specific industry, please contact us and our team will be happy to chat through your needs.

We are available to support you and responsible advertising and encourage you to contact us should you have any questions.

Kind regards,

Hilary Souter
Chief Executive

Annual Report 2019

In May, we released our Annual Report, outlining the self-regulatory action undertaken by the ASA on behalf of New Zealand advertisers, regulating all ads in all media.

Industry education and the value and effectiveness of self-regulation were key priorities for the ASA in 2019. Alongside its other projects, the ASA also released the new Gambling Advertising Code.

A total of 1429 enquiries were processed during the year and there was a 9% increase in the complaints accepted to be considered by the Complaints Board. More than two thirds of these cases resulted in the advertisement being removed or altered to comply with ASA Codes. The majority of complaints came from television advertisements. Facebook ads dominated social media complaints, receiving 64% of the complaints from digital advertising. For all the details on complaints by medium, read our full annual report.

Most Controversial Ads of 2019

Zombies, exhaust emissions, and election advertising were among the most controversial themes raised in advertising in 2019. Check out our blog to find out which ads were the most complained about last year.

Advertising Revenue 2019

The NZ Advertising Turnover 2019 was released last month, reporting that advertising revenue across all main media was 2.767 billion dollars for the 12 months ended 31 December 2019.
The data in the turnover report is from television, newspapers, interactive media, radio, magazines, outdoor, addressed mail, unaddressed mail, and cinema.

For more information on the 2019 report, and the updated 2018 figures, click here.

Election Advertising

In March we released our Guide on Election and Referenda Advertising. We are seeing an increase in complaints regarding election and referenda advertising, with advocacy related complaints doubling in the year to December 2019.  We encourage advertisers involved in these areas to read our Guide and contact us if you have any questions. If you would like to register your interest in a training session regarding the Guide, please contact us for more information.

The Guide has been compiled to help candidates, political parties, advocacy groups, consumers and the advertising industry understand the ASA’s role in supporting responsible advertising.

The Guide includes an infographic that explains what the ASA, the Electoral Commission, the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the NZ Media Council do in relation to election and referenda ads, editorial and programme content.

It includes information on the Advertising Standards Code which sets out the principles and rules that support responsible advertising, how to complain and how to respond to a complaint and a summary of recent decisions on election and advocacy advertising.