Countdown to ASA’s 50th anniversary: 1972 – 1973
6 August 2012
1972 saw the ASA proudly celebrating its 10th birthday. It was a milestone that, a bit like our 50th, prompted a round of nostalgia. Our Annual Report from this year, then, is largely a review of the previous decade. There was plenty to be proud about. In ten years the ASA had firmly achieved its single aim of “ensuring that advertising standards are such as to merit public confidence in the advertising industry.”
We were certainly in loquacious and eloquent form, the Annual Report being unabashedly text heavy and containing a wandering narrative and musings upon, amongst other things, what ‘advertising’ means. This is quite clearly evidenced by such literary references as:
“there is evidence that the word 'advertise' once meant to 'inform', and only that. Shakespeare in Henry VI puts these words into the mouth of King Edward: 'We are advertised by our loving friends that they do hold their course towards Tewkesbury.'”
We again highlighted that the UK model of ad self-regulation was winning plaudits from abroad:
“Since its inception in 1962 a growing number of countries have shown their interest in this particularly British way of doing things - authority vested in an independent and impartial arbiter which does not cost the taxpayer a penny.”
And we were happy to report, as is still the case today that self-regulation is an effective means of keeping advertising in check and that maintaining standards is helped in no small part by the commitment and buy-in of industry to adhering to the rules. All of which means that despite the sanctions at our disposal we rarely have to exercise them.
“But ASA is seldom called upon to wield a big stick. The knowledge of the existence of these sanctions, backed by respect for the Authority and the system, is most often effective in obtaining compliance with the Authority's wishes without any need for disciplinary action.”
In much the same way that our published rulings appear on our website today to put our decisions on the public record, for the first time our 1972 Annual Report outlined the nature of all ‘upheld’ complaints.
Amongst those 63 cases investigated on the grounds of misleading advertising, highlights include:
- Misleading claim that a lip salve 'can cure cold sores'.
- Claims for air freshener were scientifically unacceptable.
- False claim for uniqueness of toilet soap and a misleading illustration of lathering properties.
- Recruitment advertisement misleading as it did not make it clear that no women were accepted for training.
And of those 26 cases relating to ‘bad taste’, there appeared to be something of a recurring theme:
- Naked women illustration and wording distasteful in advertisement for film.
- Unnecessary use of nudity in advertisements for showers.
- Unnecessary use of nudity in advertisements for castings, in trade journal.
- Use of nude figure in leaflet for shower pushed through letter box.
10 years old, but there was plenty more to come.
Read the 1972 - 1973 Annual report here