Countdown to our 50th anniversary 1966 to 1967
20 July 2012
Mention 1966 and, for many people, it immediately evokes memories of one of the crowning achievements in recent national history. Of course, 1966 saw the children's television series Camberwick Green aired on the BBC for the first time... In our ongoing look through the archives, our fourth Annual Report covering 1 April 1966 – 31 March 1967, we discover that our complaints levels had tripled to 205 and covered an eclectic range of issues:
• The ASA’s main rulings related to comparative pricing, the use of the word "free", testimonials, and ads for betting tipsters, pregnancy testing, TV and radio rental, and correspondence courses and instruction manuals for judo, ju-jitsu, karate and Kung-fu
Indeed, on that last point, there was clearly a public safety concern at hand:
• The adverse publicity which was given to an incident in which a man was killed by the misuse of karate caused the Authority to investigate this field of activity. The investigation resulted in the recommendation that advertisements for correspondence courses and instruction manuals for judo, jiu-jitsu, karate and Kung-fu should not be accepted
‘Free’ is still one of the ad industry’s favourite words and an updated Help Note
has just been issued to help advertisers avoid using it in a misleading way.
While some of the issues we dealt with closely mirror our work today, there were also distinct differences in how we went about our work. For instance, the report reveals that we didn’t ‘name and shame’ advertisers who fell foul of the rules:
“It is sometimes suggested that the Advertising Standards Authority should make a practice of publishing the names of advertisers who break the rules and of the agencies concerned”
However, back then we took the view that:
“to publish the names of the advertisers would involve a loss of goodwill quite disproportionate to the offence”
This is in marked contrast to today where one of our key sanctions is the negative publicity for an advertiser that can result from our published adjudications
Surprisingly, perhaps, we appeared quite happy to disparage our cousins across the pond. Comparative advertising was on the increase and we blamed it on the Americans!
“We viewed with some anxiety a recent tendency to rely increasingly on the negative rather than the positive approach, a tendency which seems to have started in the U.S.A. and infected both press and television advertising here.”
But we commended those advertisers who restrained themselves in the face of such provocation:
“We noted with approval that some advertisers (including one trade association), although provoked by disparaging references to their wares by manufacturers of competing products, showed commendable restraint in refraining from descending to the same level”
And, finally, our self-regulatory system was attracting admiring glances from abroad, which prompted this rather self-satisfied summation:
• We received many requests for information from abroad about the way in which the system works in this country. It is gratifying to note that in some respects our methods are being adopted in other countries.
Read the 1966 – 1967 Annual report here