ASA Newsletter: December 2020

Welcome to our final newsletter for 2020! The updates in this edition include:

1. Update from the Chief Executive
2. Release of Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code
3. Election Advertising
4. Christmas Advertising
5. Free Webinar: Influencers AdHelp Information

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

Update from the Chief Executive

With Christmas now upon us, it is timely to reflect on the unprecedented year we have seen.

We have had a busy and challenging year, with a 20% increase in enquiries to 30 November, and over a thousand complaints about advertisements. Consumers have been alert to issues with advertising in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, while election and referenda advertisements and influencer marketing have been other areas of increased public interest. The ASA Codes Committee has undertaken a significant piece of work in the review of the existing Code for Alcohol Advertising and Promotion and our new Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code was released on 16 December.

The Boards and staff at the ASA have been committed to ensuring our self-regulatory process remained unaffected throughout the challenges posed by the COVID-19 restrictions, providing consumers with an efficient and robust avenue to complain about advertisements which are a concern to them. We remain well placed to continue delivering our vision of every ad a responsible ad in 2021 and beyond.

The ASA office will be closed from 23 December 2020 to 11 January 2021. We wish you all a safe and happy Christmas break, and look forward to continuing our work with you in the new year.

Kind regards,

Hilary Souter
Chief Executive

Release of Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code

This week we released our new Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code following a scheduled review by the ASA Codes Committee. The review has been conducted over the past eighteen months and included public consultation on a draft version of the Code.

The new Code provides clear guidelines to advertisers that alcohol advertising and promotion must be targeted to adults, and includes references to relevant legislation, guidelines on alcohol advertising and promotion and low risk drinking guidelines that advertisers must observe.  Geared towards protecting minors and others who may be vulnerable to alcohol advertising and promotion, the new Code is well placed to support responsible alcohol advertising and promotion.

The new Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code will be implemented in two phases, with new advertising and promotion required to comply by 1 April 2021, and will be effective for all alcohol advertising and promotion from 1 July 2021.

The ASA will be rolling out extensive training in early 2021 to ensure widespread understanding and compliance. Industry who would like to express their interest in training can register on the ASA website.

Update on Election and Referenda Advertising

This year, the ASA received 101 complaints regarding advertising for 2020 General Election, the End of Life Choice referendum and the Cannabis Legalisation and Control referendum.

Many people may not realise that complaints about election and referendum advertising are considered differently to complaints about advertising for products and services. In assessing whether these advertisements comply with the Advertising Standards Code, the freedom of expression provisions under the Bill of Rights Act 1990 must also be considered.

Section 14 of the Act says: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.” This freedom of expression supports robust debate on current issues in a democracy.

In order to meet the requirements of advocacy advertising, Rule 2(e) in the Advertising Standards Code requires that:
•    The identity of the advertiser must be clear
•    Opinion must be clearly distinguishable from factual information, and
•    Factual information must be able to be substantiated.

If the identity and position of the Advertiser is clear, a more liberal interpretation of the Advertising Standards Code is allowed.

Below are a few key statistics from the complaints received regarding election and referenda advertising in 2020.

Christmas Advertising

With Christmas fast approaching, brands are tapping into the festive season with their campaigns and promotions. Our blog has some suggestions for advertisers when it comes to avoiding misleading, offensive or irresponsible advertising – click here to read more.

The Domain Name Commission have also released their annual #ShopSafeNZ campaign, developing a website as a learning tool to help consumers identify a fake webstore and avoid the risk of purchasing fakes, or not receiving the goods at all.

Free Webinar: Influencers AdHelp Information

In this free webinar, ASA Chief Executive Hilary Souter outlines the key requirements in our Influencers AdHelp Information and discusses the application of the identification requirements for influencer ad content. The webinar lays out commonly made mistakes and answers the most frequently asked questions raised by the industry following the release of the guidelines. This session is a must-see for influencers, advertisers and agencies operating within this space and is available now on the ASA website.