The ASA, in conjunction with the Code-writing body CAP, has today published its Annual Review for 2009. The Review includes a list of ads which received the most complaints in 2009. Topping the list was an ad from the Christian party, which ran with the strapline “There definitely is a God” on London buses.
Ad agency M&C Saatchi were back, appointed by the Conservative Part to steer the party’s and David Cameron’s advertising campaign. The old Saatchi and Saatchi team are of course famous for the advertisement for Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 Conservative Party campaign, “Labour isn’t working” which some argue won the Tories the election. In the 1987 election it is alleged that Thatcher spent £3 million in the last four days of the campaign.
Did the 2010 campaign produce any memorable advertising though? Both the Tories and Labour resorted to spoofs and old clichés. Did anyone notice the Liberal Democrat campaign? No one could ever have envisaged the resulting Lib –Con alliance, but how far can the parties go in the advertising battle to win the voters? The advertising codes of practice (known as the CAP and BCAP rules enforced by the ASA, Advertising Standards Agency) require all advertisements to be legal, decent, honest, and truthful but MPs argued that the Codes ought not to apply to political advertising for elections.
The argument is that it is inappropriate for the ASA, as a non-elected body, to intervene in the democratic process; that ASA rulings would have little practical value because the complex issues involved meant that rulings would probably be made after election day; that ASA adjudications would come within the arena of political debate; and that party political advertisements are always subject to a disproportionate amount of media scrutiny.…