Consumer Help and Advertising Facts
Frequently Asked Questions about Advertising
Q. What value does advertising have in society?
A. Advertising plays an important role in today’s society. It is the driver of consumer choice and, by promoting market competition, helps us get better value for money. It enables innovation to be brought to market and stimulates economic growth and jobs. It funds free and independent media, an unprecedented variety of content, and a wide variety of sport and cultural events.
Yet these benefits, and the importance of sound policies to maximize their impact, are often poorly understood. In turn, growing calls for restrictions on advertising threaten to inadvertently put at risk the benefits derived from advertising.
Q. How can self-regulation of advertising protect consumers?
A. Only if they are trusted can marketing communications be effective. Responsibility in marketing communications is a pre-condition for building and maintaining trust. AANA is at the forefront of efforts to set and enforce industry-wide standards for responsibility, based on clear, objective criteria.
While the Codes go much further than what is required by the law, the enforcement mechanisms provide consumers with a means of redress that is faster and cheaper than the courts. The industry’s self-regulatory systems are constantly evolving in line with societal expectations. In turn, public authorities are increasingly recognizing effective self-regulation as a valuable complement to law. And importantly, it is funded by industry, not the taxpayer.
Q. Is advertising responsible for promoting a culture of binge drinking and alcohol abuse?
A. Alcohol abuse and alcohol-related harm are public policy challenges which cannot be solved by governments alone. Although alcohol advertising is already heavily regulated, and research shows that advertising bans will not reduce consumption. In fact they might increase consumption by forcing retailers to turn to price discounting as a form of competition.
Advertisers take their role seriously in promoting responsible alcohol consumption and are constantly reviewing their practices as a result. Yet, alcohol advertising does not cause alcohol related harm and further restrictions to marketing communications are not a solution. AANA helps alcohol marketers meaningfully engage and better navigate this challenging environment while advocating policies that take full account of the important contribution advertisers can make.
Q. Is advertising responsible for promoting a culture of junk food and children’s obesity?
A. The latest research indicates there has been no change in the levels of childhood obesity in the past 10 years. The notion of a children’s obesity epidemic is a myth.
Food advertising does not cause obesity. Nevertheless, the advertising industry acknowledges the increase of overweight and obesity is one of the leading public health challenges of our time. Driven by a multitude of factors from more sedentary lifestyles to unbalanced diets, it can only be tackled by a collective effort of the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. In this challenging environment, advertisers are conscious of their responsibility and keen to be part of the solution. But they should not be made the scapegoat for the problem.
Advertiser initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles can have a positive impact while avoiding heavy-handed interventions that would not reduce obesity rates but undermine the important contribution advertisers can make to address the problem.
Q. Should advertising to children be banned?
A. Children today are growing up in an environment shaped by media, entertainment and popular culture. Advertising is an intrinsic part of this. There are major benefits, from first-rate children’s programming to unprecedented access to technology, knowledge and communication tools. But children also need to learn to decipher and critically interpret the range of communications, including marketing communications, around them.
Advertisers consider it an important responsibility to help promote media literacy among children. This is a foundation for any responsible approach to marketing communications. In recognition of the special care that is required when advertising to children, AANA leads a coalition of the advertising industry to identify, promote and replicate good practice and champion socially responsible initiatives, which go beyond compliance with industry standards.
A few things you should know about advertising...
Advertising increases value for consumers: By helping companies to differentiate themselves advertising stimulates competition, decreasing prices and increasing quality.
Advertising promotes consumer choice: Advertising enables companies to tell us about the distinct products they offer in response to our diverse tastes and needs. As a result, they are able to provide a much broader range of options than would otherwise be the case. By telling us about them, advertising ensures that we don’t need to settle for second best. It helps us exercise our right to choose.
Advertising powers economic growth: In helping companies succeed, advertising plays a key role in a dynamic economy. There is a proven link between the rates of investment in advertising and GDP growth in major markets.
Advertising creates jobs: Through its positive effect on economic growth, advertising helps generate employment. Additionally the advertising industry itself is a huge employer.
Advertising is the lifeblood of the media: Advertising funds a diverse, pluralistic media landscape. Without advertising many of our newspapers, magazines, radio, tv and other media as we know them, including much of the content of the internet, would not exist. To replace their revenues from advertising, newspapers and magazines would have to more than double their cover price.
Advertising funds sports and culture: Advertising and sponsorship play an essential role in enabling sporting events such as the cricket and the different football codes. Sponsors also subsidize and pay for art exhibitions and cultural events of every variety.
Advertising for a better society: All over the world, public service advertising has proven to be an effective way to address societal challenges. For example it has helped increase AIDS awareness, fight domestic violence, or reduce road deaths by encouraging the use of seat belts. Companies too are using advertising to show how they can help make a difference.