Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the ASA’s ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If you don’t find the answer to your question here then please contact us. Download a PDF of these questions here.

About the ASA

Anyone can complain about any advertisement. The ASA considers all complaints regardless of who has made the complaint. Each complaint is processed in the same way.

Most complaints are dealt with in two to three weeks. Detailed or complex complaints may take longer. The Complaints Board meets fortnightly to rule on complaints but can also meet at short notice if required.

A single complaint can stop an advertisement but needs to go through our process first. If the Chair rules there is a case to answer, as a matter of natural justice, the advertiser, the advertising agency and the media organisation (where relevant) are given seven days to respond to a complaint.

 

If the complaint is upheld by the Complaints Board, we request the advertisement be removed/changed and there is a high level of compliance with these requests.

The Advertising Standards Complaints Board makes decisions about complaints following responses from parties. The Complaints Board has nine members, five public and four industry and meets fortnightly. The average time to deal with complaints is about 12 days. Decisions may be appealed and if there are grounds for an appeal, the Appeal Board will re-consider the complaint. The Appeal Board has three members, two public and one industry and meets on demand. The ASA membership has no involvement in the work of the Complaints and Appeal Boards.

No Grounds to Proceed: This means the Chair of the Complaints Board has reviewed the complaint and has ruled a Code has not been breached, and there are no grounds for the complaint to proceed. This outcome may occur when a complaint is based on extreme interpretation or is trivial or vexatious, or if there is a precedent decision that relates to the same or similar advertising.

 

Upheld: This means the Complaints Board agreed with the issues raised by the complainant and the advertiser is asked to amend or remove the advertisement.

 

Settled: When an advertiser either withdraws an advertisement or makes immediate changes (that the Chair considers satisfactory) to address the issues raised by the complainant the complaint can be settled by the Chair.  A settled decision achieves the same outcome as an upheld decision – removal or amendment of the advertisement.

 

Not Upheld: This means the Complaints Board does not find the advertisement in breach of the Advertising Codes in relation to the Complainant’s concerns.

 

No Jurisdiction: Sometimes a complaint is outside the jurisdiction of the ASA. The ASA deals with complaints about any advertisement that is targeted at NZ audiences. Matters of law or complaints about advertisements from outside of NZ, which are not targeting NZ consumers, are outside the ASA’s jurisdiction.

If an advertisement is found to be in breach of the ASA Codes, it must be removed and / or amended. This request is made to the advertiser, agency and media directly after Complaints Board meetings. There is an excellent rate of compliance for this process that is essentially voluntary. In addition, all decisions are released to the media and often receive considerable publicity, some may argue the media coverage may be disproportionate to the level of breach against the advertiser and such negative publicity is also a driver for compliance.

 

The work of the ASA is complementary to legislation. If a regulatory authority considers there has been a serious breach, then there are a number of bodies who could prosecute such a case, including the Commerce Commission, Medsafe and the Financial Markets Authority.

The ASA has a database of decisions on its website. Parties to a complaint will receive a copy of the decision and be given a date that the decision will be available on the ASA website. The ASA has a “Decisions Alert” that interested parties can subscribe to and every few days, this alert is emailed with a list of the most recently released decisions.

The ASA runs a voluntary process which is able to deal with complaints about advertising in very short time-frames. If the advertisement is in breach of the Advertising Codes, it is removed or changed. This can be a considerable cost to the Advertiser, depending on the type of advertisement or campaign. In addition, all the decisions are released to the public and media via the ASA website and are often reported. This can result in a reputational risk for the company.

 

If the ASA had the ability to enforce a fine, our process would have to be more legalistic and it would take longer. Ad campaigns are often short and action to address any concerns is needed in weeks, not months.

 

Government regulators can prosecute advertisers for misleading and deceptive conduct. These include the Commerce Commission, Financial Markets Authority, Ministry for Primary Industries and Medsafe.

Most advertisers support self-regulation and responsible advertising and don’t deliberately mislead or offend consumers. However, advertising is a creative business and does push boundaries from time to time. If the advertiser pushes too far and a complaint is upheld almost all advertisers will remove or change the advertisement. In a small number of cases where this does not occur, the ASA may send an Ad Alert to media members. An Ad Alert is a quick way for the ASA to alert the media to a non-compliant advertisement or advertiser and the media can remove the advertisement from publication or broadcast.

 

The ASA may also refer the issue to a relevant industry organisation to request their assistance. In some cases, referral to the relevant regulator or local council may be considered.

 

Media coverage of decisions can also assist with compliance, along with consumer decisions not to engage with the relevant brand or company.

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About Complaints

Anyone can complain about any advertisement. The ASA considers all complaints regardless of who has made the complaint. Each complaint is processed in the same way.

Most complaints are dealt with in two to three weeks. Detailed or complex complaints may take longer. The Complaints Board meets fortnightly to rule on complaints but can also meet at short notice if required.

A single complaint can stop an advertisement but needs to go through our process first. If the Chair rules there is a case to answer, as a matter of natural justice, the advertiser, the advertising agency and the media organisation (where relevant) are given seven days to respond to a complaint.

 

If the complaint is upheld by the Complaints Board, we request the advertisement be removed/changed and there is a high level of compliance with these requests.

The Advertising Standards Complaints Board makes decisions about complaints following responses from parties. The Complaints Board has nine members, five public and four industry and meets fortnightly. The average time to deal with complaints is about 12 days. Decisions may be appealed and if there are grounds for an appeal, the Appeal Board will re-consider the complaint. The Appeal Board has three members, two public and one industry and meets on demand. The ASA membership has no involvement in the work of the Complaints and Appeal Boards.

No Grounds to Proceed: This means the Chair of the Complaints Board has reviewed the complaint and has ruled a Code has not been breached, and there are no grounds for the complaint to proceed. This outcome may occur when a complaint is based on extreme interpretation or is trivial or vexatious, or if there is a precedent decision that relates to the same or similar advertising.

 

Upheld: This means the Complaints Board agreed with the issues raised by the complainant and the advertiser is asked to amend or remove the advertisement.

 

Settled: When an advertiser either withdraws an advertisement or makes immediate changes (that the Chair considers satisfactory) to address the issues raised by the complainant the complaint can be settled by the Chair.  A settled decision achieves the same outcome as an upheld decision – removal or amendment of the advertisement.

 

Not Upheld: This means the Complaints Board does not find the advertisement in breach of the Advertising Codes in relation to the Complainant’s concerns.

 

No Jurisdiction: Sometimes a complaint is outside the jurisdiction of the ASA. The ASA deals with complaints about any advertisement that is targeted at NZ audiences. Matters of law or complaints about advertisements from outside of NZ, which are not targeting NZ consumers, are outside the ASA’s jurisdiction.

If an advertisement is found to be in breach of the ASA Codes, it must be removed and / or amended. This request is made to the advertiser, agency and media directly after Complaints Board meetings. There is an excellent rate of compliance for this process that is essentially voluntary. In addition, all decisions are released to the media and often receive considerable publicity, some may argue the media coverage may be disproportionate to the level of breach against the advertiser and such negative publicity is also a driver for compliance.

 

The work of the ASA is complementary to legislation. If a regulatory authority considers there has been a serious breach, then there are a number of bodies who could prosecute such a case, including the Commerce Commission, Medsafe and the Financial Markets Authority.

The ASA has a database of decisions on its website. Parties to a complaint will receive a copy of the decision and be given a date that the decision will be available on the ASA website. The ASA has a “Decisions Alert” that interested parties can subscribe to and every few days, this alert is emailed with a list of the most recently released decisions.

The ASA runs a voluntary process which is able to deal with complaints about advertising in very short time-frames. If the advertisement is in breach of the Advertising Codes, it is removed or changed. This can be a considerable cost to the Advertiser, depending on the type of advertisement or campaign. In addition, all the decisions are released to the public and media via the ASA website and are often reported. This can result in a reputational risk for the company.

 

If the ASA had the ability to enforce a fine, our process would have to be more legalistic and it would take longer. Ad campaigns are often short and action to address any concerns is needed in weeks, not months.

 

Government regulators can prosecute advertisers for misleading and deceptive conduct. These include the Commerce Commission, Financial Markets Authority, Ministry for Primary Industries and Medsafe.

Most advertisers support self-regulation and responsible advertising and don’t deliberately mislead or offend consumers. However, advertising is a creative business and does push boundaries from time to time. If the advertiser pushes too far and a complaint is upheld almost all advertisers will remove or change the advertisement. In a small number of cases where this does not occur, the ASA may send an Ad Alert to media members. An Ad Alert is a quick way for the ASA to alert the media to a non-compliant advertisement or advertiser and the media can remove the advertisement from publication or broadcast.

 

The ASA may also refer the issue to a relevant industry organisation to request their assistance. In some cases, referral to the relevant regulator or local council may be considered.

 

Media coverage of decisions can also assist with compliance, along with consumer decisions not to engage with the relevant brand or company.

Load More

 

Making a Complaint?

Anyone can complain about any advertisement. The ASA considers all complaints regardless of who has made the complaint. Each complaint is processed in the same way.

Most complaints are dealt with in two to three weeks. Detailed or complex complaints may take longer. The Complaints Board meets fortnightly to rule on complaints but can also meet at short notice if required.

A single complaint can stop an advertisement but needs to go through our process first. If the Chair rules there is a case to answer, as a matter of natural justice, the advertiser, the advertising agency and the media organisation (where relevant) are given seven days to respond to a complaint.

 

If the complaint is upheld by the Complaints Board, we request the advertisement be removed/changed and there is a high level of compliance with these requests.

The Advertising Standards Complaints Board makes decisions about complaints following responses from parties. The Complaints Board has nine members, five public and four industry and meets fortnightly. The average time to deal with complaints is about 12 days. Decisions may be appealed and if there are grounds for an appeal, the Appeal Board will re-consider the complaint. The Appeal Board has three members, two public and one industry and meets on demand. The ASA membership has no involvement in the work of the Complaints and Appeal Boards.

No Grounds to Proceed: This means the Chair of the Complaints Board has reviewed the complaint and has ruled a Code has not been breached, and there are no grounds for the complaint to proceed. This outcome may occur when a complaint is based on extreme interpretation or is trivial or vexatious, or if there is a precedent decision that relates to the same or similar advertising.

 

Upheld: This means the Complaints Board agreed with the issues raised by the complainant and the advertiser is asked to amend or remove the advertisement.

 

Settled: When an advertiser either withdraws an advertisement or makes immediate changes (that the Chair considers satisfactory) to address the issues raised by the complainant the complaint can be settled by the Chair.  A settled decision achieves the same outcome as an upheld decision – removal or amendment of the advertisement.

 

Not Upheld: This means the Complaints Board does not find the advertisement in breach of the Advertising Codes in relation to the Complainant’s concerns.

 

No Jurisdiction: Sometimes a complaint is outside the jurisdiction of the ASA. The ASA deals with complaints about any advertisement that is targeted at NZ audiences. Matters of law or complaints about advertisements from outside of NZ, which are not targeting NZ consumers, are outside the ASA’s jurisdiction.

If an advertisement is found to be in breach of the ASA Codes, it must be removed and / or amended. This request is made to the advertiser, agency and media directly after Complaints Board meetings. There is an excellent rate of compliance for this process that is essentially voluntary. In addition, all decisions are released to the media and often receive considerable publicity, some may argue the media coverage may be disproportionate to the level of breach against the advertiser and such negative publicity is also a driver for compliance.

 

The work of the ASA is complementary to legislation. If a regulatory authority considers there has been a serious breach, then there are a number of bodies who could prosecute such a case, including the Commerce Commission, Medsafe and the Financial Markets Authority.

The ASA has a database of decisions on its website. Parties to a complaint will receive a copy of the decision and be given a date that the decision will be available on the ASA website. The ASA has a “Decisions Alert” that interested parties can subscribe to and every few days, this alert is emailed with a list of the most recently released decisions.

The ASA runs a voluntary process which is able to deal with complaints about advertising in very short time-frames. If the advertisement is in breach of the Advertising Codes, it is removed or changed. This can be a considerable cost to the Advertiser, depending on the type of advertisement or campaign. In addition, all the decisions are released to the public and media via the ASA website and are often reported. This can result in a reputational risk for the company.

 

If the ASA had the ability to enforce a fine, our process would have to be more legalistic and it would take longer. Ad campaigns are often short and action to address any concerns is needed in weeks, not months.

 

Government regulators can prosecute advertisers for misleading and deceptive conduct. These include the Commerce Commission, Financial Markets Authority, Ministry for Primary Industries and Medsafe.

Most advertisers support self-regulation and responsible advertising and don’t deliberately mislead or offend consumers. However, advertising is a creative business and does push boundaries from time to time. If the advertiser pushes too far and a complaint is upheld almost all advertisers will remove or change the advertisement. In a small number of cases where this does not occur, the ASA may send an Ad Alert to media members. An Ad Alert is a quick way for the ASA to alert the media to a non-compliant advertisement or advertiser and the media can remove the advertisement from publication or broadcast.

 

The ASA may also refer the issue to a relevant industry organisation to request their assistance. In some cases, referral to the relevant regulator or local council may be considered.

 

Media coverage of decisions can also assist with compliance, along with consumer decisions not to engage with the relevant brand or company.

Load More

 

Responding to a Complaint?

Anyone can complain about any advertisement. The ASA considers all complaints regardless of who has made the complaint. Each complaint is processed in the same way.

Most complaints are dealt with in two to three weeks. Detailed or complex complaints may take longer. The Complaints Board meets fortnightly to rule on complaints but can also meet at short notice if required.

A single complaint can stop an advertisement but needs to go through our process first. If the Chair rules there is a case to answer, as a matter of natural justice, the advertiser, the advertising agency and the media organisation (where relevant) are given seven days to respond to a complaint.

 

If the complaint is upheld by the Complaints Board, we request the advertisement be removed/changed and there is a high level of compliance with these requests.

The Advertising Standards Complaints Board makes decisions about complaints following responses from parties. The Complaints Board has nine members, five public and four industry and meets fortnightly. The average time to deal with complaints is about 12 days. Decisions may be appealed and if there are grounds for an appeal, the Appeal Board will re-consider the complaint. The Appeal Board has three members, two public and one industry and meets on demand. The ASA membership has no involvement in the work of the Complaints and Appeal Boards.

No Grounds to Proceed: This means the Chair of the Complaints Board has reviewed the complaint and has ruled a Code has not been breached, and there are no grounds for the complaint to proceed. This outcome may occur when a complaint is based on extreme interpretation or is trivial or vexatious, or if there is a precedent decision that relates to the same or similar advertising.

 

Upheld: This means the Complaints Board agreed with the issues raised by the complainant and the advertiser is asked to amend or remove the advertisement.

 

Settled: When an advertiser either withdraws an advertisement or makes immediate changes (that the Chair considers satisfactory) to address the issues raised by the complainant the complaint can be settled by the Chair.  A settled decision achieves the same outcome as an upheld decision – removal or amendment of the advertisement.

 

Not Upheld: This means the Complaints Board does not find the advertisement in breach of the Advertising Codes in relation to the Complainant’s concerns.

 

No Jurisdiction: Sometimes a complaint is outside the jurisdiction of the ASA. The ASA deals with complaints about any advertisement that is targeted at NZ audiences. Matters of law or complaints about advertisements from outside of NZ, which are not targeting NZ consumers, are outside the ASA’s jurisdiction.

If an advertisement is found to be in breach of the ASA Codes, it must be removed and / or amended. This request is made to the advertiser, agency and media directly after Complaints Board meetings. There is an excellent rate of compliance for this process that is essentially voluntary. In addition, all decisions are released to the media and often receive considerable publicity, some may argue the media coverage may be disproportionate to the level of breach against the advertiser and such negative publicity is also a driver for compliance.

 

The work of the ASA is complementary to legislation. If a regulatory authority considers there has been a serious breach, then there are a number of bodies who could prosecute such a case, including the Commerce Commission, Medsafe and the Financial Markets Authority.

The ASA has a database of decisions on its website. Parties to a complaint will receive a copy of the decision and be given a date that the decision will be available on the ASA website. The ASA has a “Decisions Alert” that interested parties can subscribe to and every few days, this alert is emailed with a list of the most recently released decisions.

The ASA runs a voluntary process which is able to deal with complaints about advertising in very short time-frames. If the advertisement is in breach of the Advertising Codes, it is removed or changed. This can be a considerable cost to the Advertiser, depending on the type of advertisement or campaign. In addition, all the decisions are released to the public and media via the ASA website and are often reported. This can result in a reputational risk for the company.

 

If the ASA had the ability to enforce a fine, our process would have to be more legalistic and it would take longer. Ad campaigns are often short and action to address any concerns is needed in weeks, not months.

 

Government regulators can prosecute advertisers for misleading and deceptive conduct. These include the Commerce Commission, Financial Markets Authority, Ministry for Primary Industries and Medsafe.

Most advertisers support self-regulation and responsible advertising and don’t deliberately mislead or offend consumers. However, advertising is a creative business and does push boundaries from time to time. If the advertiser pushes too far and a complaint is upheld almost all advertisers will remove or change the advertisement. In a small number of cases where this does not occur, the ASA may send an Ad Alert to media members. An Ad Alert is a quick way for the ASA to alert the media to a non-compliant advertisement or advertiser and the media can remove the advertisement from publication or broadcast.

 

The ASA may also refer the issue to a relevant industry organisation to request their assistance. In some cases, referral to the relevant regulator or local council may be considered.

 

Media coverage of decisions can also assist with compliance, along with consumer decisions not to engage with the relevant brand or company.

Load More