Calls for tougher stand on car ads

B&T Weekly

Pressure builds on Advertising Standards Board with calls for overhaul and chairman's resignation.



PRESSURE is again building on automotive advertisers. Two months after the launch of a new car advertising code, the system for handling complaints about ads that breach the automotive code is being criticised as ineffectual.

The Australian College of Road Safety is preparing a submission to the federal Minister for Roads and Transport claiming car advertising that breaches the code and encourages dangerous driving is continuing to appear on television, arid that the Advertising Standards Board system does not allow a quick enough response to complaints.

The organisation's members include stakeholders with an interest in road safety including doctors, psychiatrists, law enforcement officers and civil engineers.

At the same time the Pedestrian Council of Australia is continuing its call for changes to the ad complaints system after the rejection of complaints about four car ads by the ASB since December.

PCA chairman Harold Scruby said the ASB was taking up to two months to respond to complaints, by which time many of the campaigns being complained about had run their course.

Scruby has also written to the ASB calling for the resignation of the chairman of the Advertising Standards Bureau, Robert Koltai. Scruby wants Koltai replaced with an "independent" chairman such as a retired judge who has no links to the ad industry.

Koltai, who is also head of corporate affairs for major advertiser Colgate-Palmolive, did not return B&T s calls by press time.

In its submission the Australian College of Road Safety is understood to be calling for a mechanism for fast action to stop campaigns that breach the code, a system of highly deterring penalties, assessment of ads before they go to air and an independent arbitrator to head the assessment of advertising.

The ACRS also wants changes to the guidelines by which the ads are assessed. It is concerned that car ads are allowed to show dangerous driving behaviour as long as there is a disclaimer saying that it was not filmed on public roads. It believes car advertisers are exploiting this loophole by showing cars in other locations.