Last week the ASA announced that it has struck a new deal with Trading Standards to enable the membership association to act as a legal backstop to take action against brands who persistently breach the CAP code through "misleading, aggressive or otherwise unfair" non-broadcast ads. Trading standards can consider taking action against advertisers referred by the ASA, under consumer and business protection laws.

The ASA has in the past referred non-broadcast advertisers to the OFT for formal sanctions and has a similar relationship with Ofcom with respect to broadcast advertising.

ASA chief executive, Guy Parker, said: "We already enjoy a close and effective working relationship with Trading Standards. This new arrangement will help us become more joined-up and consistent as well as giving consumers and business confidence that an advertiser who doesn’t play by the rules will face the consequences." 

Although the specifics of how the referral process will work in practice are unclear, advertisers which have in the past considered the ASA to have no ‘bite’ should take heed of this new development.