Ad Standards urges ad industry to become more progressive

Industry complaint body launches new campaign to highlight how advertising can be more progressive

Australia’s independent advertising complaints body, Ad Standards, has launched a new campaign which aims to draw attention to the advertising standards codes, with the goal to encourage progressive advertising and recognise ads hitting the mark.

“Our campaign is to encourage advertising to move away from stereotypes and challenge social norms,” CEO of Ad Standards, Fiona Jolly, told CMO.

Ad Standards is using the provocative advertising campaign to raise the public’s awareness of the wide range of social issues the ad codes cover. By using headlines such as ‘This ad is brainwashing your children’, ‘This ad is for white people only’, ‘This ad is not an ad’ and ‘If you’re a woman, don’t bother reading this ad’, the industry body wants to make a point about the ability of advertisers and agencies to have more socially progressive messaging in their ads.

It also encourages the advertising industry to strive to exceed the existing standards and deliver more socially progressive marketing communications. 

Codes, Jolly explained to CMO, really do “set the minimum”. 

“Advertisers should not feel inhibited in going beyond the standards and aiming for more socially progressive advertising, which in turn can help companies achieve better business outcomes,” she said.

Jolly noted the global movement is to move away from stereotypes and towards more socially progressive advertising. “The World Federation of Advertisers is calling on brands to ‘unstereotype’ advertising,” she said.

The campaign isn’t finger-pointing at any industry or business in particular, Jolly said, but it wants to remind people advertising standards are in place and they are there to achieve the greater good for everyone, advertisers and the community alike

“It’s been proven Australia’s advertising self-regulation complaints system is responsive, cost-effective and efficient – it protects the integrity of brands through a wide range of advertising initiatives that align with community values. It’s a win-win,”  she said.

Ad Standards is also encouraging advertisers and agencies to nominate an ad they believe celebrates creativity and goes beyond the already high standards in Australia to create kinder conditions. Ad Standards will make an announcement after three months to recognise and promote the kinder ads, which meet or have gone above the standard, to show advertisers and brands how these ads are being appreciated in a positive way.

“We want people to think about ads that show positive depictions of society and aren’t perpetuating stereotypes about gender roles, for example. And just like you can lodge a complaint, you can nominate a kinder ad, to have it recognised,” Jolly said.

“When ads are using stereotypes, there’s the risk of getting negative feedback from these campaigns. It risks alienating people… it can just be lazy too. It’s avoiding potential complaints and controversy, avoiding stereotypes.”

The global push towards kinder, more inclusive practices, from advertising to how we want to experience our lives, is more than just a focus on negative messaging.

“We can have a better place to be living … and we can make advertising an aspirational space,” Jolly added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia. 

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