Countdown to ASA’s 50th anniversary: 1971 – 1972
3 August 2012
In 1971 the geo-political landscape appears to have been at the forefront of our regulatory thoughts. Indeed, our Annual Report from that year has a political theme running throughout; clearly we were interested in what was going on at a Government level in and beyond our borders.
At home, it was the year that Rolls-Royce went bankrupt and had to be nationalised and Margaret Thatcher won a majority vote to end free school milk for children aged over seven years. While on the foreign affairs front, the EEC agreed terms for Britain’s proposed membership.
As Britain moved closer to Europe so it seems the advertising regulatory world was coming closer too. Our report details how other countries were looking at the UK self-regulatory model for advertising and beginning to realise that passing laws is not always the most effective way of keeping advertising standards high.
“It is beginning to dawn on a growing number of countries that if you pile law upon law, and restriction upon restriction, in the interests of helping the consumer, you will end up by doing him a disservice through hardening the arteries of industry. That a reaction is setting in reflects a growing interest in the concept of the voluntary system of regulation.”
In fact, there appeared to be a growing indication that:
“the process of law alone is beginning to be seen as a very blunt, and slow-moving, instrument which, by its nature, is ill-suited to the control of an industry so continuously changing as is advertising.”
Further afield, we also continued to cement our ties with regulatory partners in America, Canada and South Africa. But, perhaps reflecting the decidedly chill wind emanating from the Cold War, we observed from a distance the fact that Russia was playing catch up in terms of advertising freedoms.
We dryly commented that the Russian Encyclopaedia of 1941 defined advertising as:
"Hullabaloo, a means of swindling the people and foisting upon them goods frequently useless or of dubious value."
But it appears that even the might of the Soviet empire found that “… State trading operations cannot prosper even moderately without it [advertising].” So much so that the 1972 Great Soviet Encyclopaedia redefined advertising as:
"The popularisation of goods with the aim of selling them, the creation of demand for these goods, the acquaintance of consumers with their quality, particular features and the location of their sales, and explanation of the methods of their use."
Read the 1971 - 1972 Annual report here