This Scorecard is due to be updated in 2018
Advertising is the public, usually paid-for announcements used by business to disseminate information to existing and potential customers. It is a single component within a marketing process and involves getting the word out concerning a business, product, or the services on offer. Advertising reaps long-term benefits as it creates, enhances and preserves consumer trust and confidence in business and helps drive the open market. It continues to develop and be refined in response to social, technological and economic changes so that advertising is now on-line as much as it is found in traditional print media or on posters in the street.
There is no general, all-encompassing definition of ‘responsible’ advertising but it should be recognised that advertising may also have negative impacts when it disregards the context in which it is operating, the prevailing standards in a society and/or uses exploitative or manipulative methods to sell products that may cause harm or offence. Advertising is largely self-regulating, with the industry voluntarily establishing rules and paying for its own regulation, but, given the social and cultural sensitivities, most countries also have legislation to control certain aspects.
Guidelines businesses may observe include:
● Ensuring that advertising communications can be easily identified as such
● Tailoring content to the audience and distributing it in a culturally sensitive manner (e.g. age appropriateness, respecting religious sensibilities)
● Presenting clear messages so as not to mislead the public
● Ensuring images of products are not doctored and manipulated in advertisements (e.g. airbrushing)
● Supporting any claims made with substantive, legitimate, objective evidence
● Refraining from making universal claims if significant division of informed, expert or scientific opinion exists
● Avoiding stereotyping, objectification or depicting demographic groups in a negative or dehumanizing way (e.g. gender, age, race, sexual orientation, mental disability, over sexualised images of women)
● Avoiding scheduling or placing advertisements that could threaten or distress (e.g. children, elderly, disabled)
● Being open about digital data collection and use, especially associated with ‘online behavioural advertising’
● Respecting the intellectual property rights of copyright holders registered trademarks.
In the words of the UK Advertising Standards Agency, advertising should be “legal, decent, honest and truthful”