ASA Newsletter: June 2021

Welcome to our June newsletter!

The updates in this edition include:

1.    Update from the Chief Executive
2.    ASA releases 2020 Annual Report
3.    Most complained about ads of 2020
4.    Call to participate in the Global DEI Census
5.    Reminder on the Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code
6.    International Council for Advertising Self-Regulation Members adopt Charter

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

Update from the Chief Executive

The latest quarter has been a significant one for the ASA, with the release of our Annual Report, consultation for the Code for Financial Advertising, and the implementation of the new Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code coming up on 1 July. This year is shaping up to be our busiest in recent memory, with over 500 complaints received to 31 May regarding more than 300 advertisements.

The increase in complaints demonstrates that consumers are alert to advertising that does not meet their expectations, and are holding advertisers to account through the ASA complaints process. To help us manage the increase in workload we have implemented a triage process to ensure the most potentially serious complaints are prioritised, based on factors such as reach of the advertisement, whether a code with a high standard of responsibility applies, and if the complaint is regarding a restricted product or service.

We remain committed to working with industry to maintain a high standard of advertising within New Zealand. Our robust and responsive process allows us to continue operating effectively despite challenging and unpredictable circumstances.

Kind regards,

Hilary Souter
Chief Executive

ASA 2020 Annual Report

Our latest Annual Report was released at the end of May. This report outlines the self-regulatory action undertaken by the ASA in 2020 and associated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Election and work supporting advertisers and influencers working in the social media space. We handled over 1900 enquiries in 2020, and a 36% increase in complaints from 2019. For more information and a detailed breakdown of our workload, priorities, and complaints trends, view the report on our website by clicking here.

ASA releases most complained about ads of 2020

Over a quarter of complaints to the ASA last year were about advocacy advertisements (including political advertising) and this is reflected in our list of the most complained about ads of 2020. Other controversial themes included discrimination and stereotyping, shock tactics, and use of offensive language. Click here to view the full list on our blog.

Call to participate in the Global DEI Census

Add your voice to the world’s first global diversity and inclusion census in marketing.

The World Federation of Advertisers, in conjunction with Campaign, Kantar, agencies associations VoxComm and EACA, Advertising Week, Cannes Lions and GWI, have built a 15-20 minute survey to gather data about the diversity and inclusion in the marketing industry and are calling for respondents from New Zealand, along with 26 other countries, to help.

Hearing your views will be a critical step to making the industry more diverse and inclusive. This is vital because many industry efforts have been strained or delayed by the unique pressures of the pandemic. Click here to fill out the survey.

Responses are entirely anonymous and cannot be traced back to respondents.

The data will help inform an action plan for change and the industry will re-run this research in 18 months to measure progress.

“Progress in diversity and inclusion across the advertising industry has been inching forward where it should be racing ahead. The recent State of the Industry report launched by the Unstereotype Alliance shows that mechanisms to measure and hold organizations to account are critical to the improvement that is so urgently required. This census is an important step to uncover the extent to which marginalized and under-represented groups are under-resourced, and to help identify a clear path for progress.” Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General, Executive Director of UN Women and Chair of the Unstereotype Alliance.

The survey will be open until July 2nd and is being conducted in 27 countries by WFA in conjunction with Campaign, Kantar, agencies associations VoxComm and EACA, Advertising Week, Cannes Lions and GWI and is supported by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Click here to learn more on the WFA website.

Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code effective 1 July

From 1 July 2021, the new Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code will come into full effect. Advertisers are reminded that all alcohol advertising and promotion will be required to comply.

We have been rolling out training to the industry and have both webinar and in-house options available, please contact us if you would like further information.

Click here to learn more.

ICAS Members adopt Charter

We are pleased to announce the ASA, along with fellow Members of the International Council for Advertising Self-Regulation (ICAS) have adopted a Charter to globally strengthen advertising self-regulation. As part of the Charter, ICAS members committed to striving towards high standards in advertising practices, independence in decision-making, provision of industry advice and training and investment in technology to ensure advertising self-regulation maintains pace with the evolving media and advertising landscapes.

ICAS is a global platform that promotes responsible advertising through effective advertising self-regulation. Along with New Zealand, the network includes Self-Regulatory Organisations (SROs) from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and North & South America, as well as global associations such as the World Federation of Advertisers.

Click here to find out more about the ICAS Charter.