AANA calls for AARB to be disbanded
Fri 6 July 2012
Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) today called for the disbandment of the Alcohol Advertising Review Board (AARB), which continues to mislead the public as to its purpose1.
Close to four months after the AARB was established as a so-called “independent alternative” to what it claimed was “Australia’s current inadequate and ineffective advertising self-regulatory system”, the AARB is yet to deliver a single determination, despite committing to a target of 20 working days on average for the handling of complaints2.
In comparison, during the four month period following AARB’s establishment the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme delivered ten determinations, four of which have been upheld.
“There are already a number of regulatory protections in place in terms of messaging and placement of alcohol advertising. It is an effective system, underpinned by a transparent and robust complaints handling system that delivers responses to consumer complainants within 30 days,” said AANA Director of Codes, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Alina Bain.
“The AARB purported to provide an alternative complaints mechanism but has failed to deliver a consumer benefit. Professor Mike Daube’s own comments that AARB is “working to their own timelines”3 confirms that it was not designed to act as a genuine complaints handling system for the consumer,” said Ms Bain.
“The AARB system has set itself up as legislator, plaintiff, judge and jury. It has developed its own codes and is adjudicating complaints from within its own ranks. It flies in the face of established self-regulatory principles, which include independence of code making and adjudication. What’s more it has misled the public as to its purpose,” said Ms Bain.
“The current self-regulatory system for alcohol advertising delivers a tangible public benefit and is underpinned by a responsive and transparent complaints handling system. We call on the AARB Board to stop misleading the Australian public and end the AARB farce.”
1 Professor Mike Daube: “The new Alcohol Advertising Review Board will offer the community the opportunity to register their concerns on the basis of sensible codes, processes independent of the drinks industry, and speedy adjudication.” (http://www.alcoholadreview.com.au/resources/Alcohol-Advertising-Review-Board-launch---media-release.pdf)
3 Professor Mike Daube: “We are working to our own timelines, not the drinks industry’s. For our first report, we wanted to include what we thought was an appropriate amount of complaints rather than a few early ones.” http://www.theage.com.au/business/cooking-the-books-ok-if-you-back-the-local-tennis-club-20120702-21dbs.html
For further information:
Alina Bain, Director of Codes, Policy and Regulatory Affairs
Australian Association of National Advertisers
Phone: 02 9221 8088
Background on alcohol consumption levels and advertising
- The majority of Australians consume alcohol moderately. Australia’s per capita consumption now sits at around 20% below its peak (reached in the 70s).
- The aim of alcohol advertising is to influence brand choice. While Australia’s brewers spend more on advertising than any other alcohol type, the beer market is in long-term volume decline.
- According to the Advertising Standards Bureau alcohol advertising makes up just 3.78% of all complaints. Community awareness campaigns attract close to double this figure at 7.14% (http://www.adstandards.com.au/publications/reviewofoperations).
Background on the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code
- The ABAC is co-regulatory with a government representative on the management committee.
- ABAC’s independent adjudication panel is led by former Attorney General Professor the Hon Michael Lavarch, and is run at arm’s length from the industry. Other members of the panel include Professor Richard Mattick from the University of NSW, Ms Debra Richards, an experienced media expert, and Jeanne Strachan, an expert in the effectiveness of advertising and marketing and understanding consumer behaviour.
- ABAC signatories include all major alcohol advertisers. The scheme has an excellent compliance record. The value of advertising not represented by members of the scheme would be miniscule.
- Alcohol ads have to be approved against the Code before they go to market by an independent pre-vetter.
- The system does cover all forms of advertising, including new media.
- The Code takes into account placement through a clause which requires the impact of the advertisement to be judged “in terms of its probable impact upon a reasonable person within the class of persons to whom the advertisement or product material is directed and other persons to whom the advertisement or product material may be communicated.”
- The placement of advertising is also addressed in conjunction with other parties, such as the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice, Outdoor Media Association Alcohol Advertising Guidelines etc.
- Making a complaint is as easy as sending an e-mail.
- The process balances the need for thorough review of multi-million dollar advertising campaigns with the need for expeditious turnaround times and is in line with international best practice.
Background on AANA
- AANA is the peak national body for advertiser involved in Australia’s $30 billion a year advertising, marketing and media industry
- AANA is responsible for the advertising Codes that govern self-regulation of advertising in Australia