How to respond to a complaint

There are two options available to advertisers in response to a complaint.

1. Settle the Complaint

Advertisers may choose to withdraw advertisements due to complaint(s) (or withdraw the part of the advertisement raised in the complaint) before the complaint is considered by the Complaints Board. Advertisers must notify the ASA in writing and indicate the timeframe in which the particular advertisement (or part) will be withdrawn.

The ASA also requires a written undertaking that the advertisement (or part) will not be re-broadcast or re-published at a later date. The advertisement will go forward to be considered by the Complaints Board if an advertiser is unable to commit to not re-publishing or re-broadcasting the advertisement.

2. Respond to the Complaint

The Complaints Board reviews the information provided by parties and makes a decision on whether or not the complaint is in breach of the ASA Codes, and is upheld or not upheld.

The following guidelines are intended to assist those responding to a complaint.

  1. Please read the complaint carefully before responding and address the specific points raised by the complainant.
  2. If the complainant has challenged a claim made by the advertiser, the advertiser must substantiate that claim. In the response please provide detailed information backing up the claim or claims that have been challenged. For example, a survey result, a media story, independent research. When an advertiser is unable to adequately substantiate a claim, the complaint is likely to be upheld.
  3. The ASA Guidance Note for responding to a complaint about misleading claims has helpful information about different types of claims and the required level of substantiation.
  4. If media placement is an issue raised in complaint, it is helpful to receive information about why that medium was chosen in relation to the target market.
  5. Please refer specifically to the Codes that the Complaints Board has applied to the complaint.
  6. It may be useful for you to search the decisions database. The decisions database has full copies of all the decisions made by the Complaints Board for a seven year period and you can search the database by code and keywords.

Extra Information

  • Responses can be emailed to or posted to PO Box 10-675, The Terrace, Wellington 6143.
  • If any assistance is required with any of the above do not hesitate to phone us on 0800 234 357 or (04) 472 7852.