Ad Standards operates according to the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) Common Principles and Operating Standards of Best Practice, which include:
- The consumer should benefit from the self-regulatory system and should be the focus of attention.
- Self-regulation must be, and be seen to be impartial and independent of government, specific interests and interest groups.
- The self-regulatory system must be transparent and accessible.
- Self-regulation must be effective, rapid, flexible, current and applied in a non-bureaucratic manner.
- Self-regulatory rules and procedures should be applied in both the spirit and the letter and should be regularly reviewed.
- Consumer complaints should be handled free of charge.
- A self-regulatory system must have adequate sanctions which can be enforced.
- Self-regulation must always be in compliance with the law.
- Self-regulatory systems must be sufficiently resourced and supported to be able to meet their objectives.
These Principles form part of the EASA Best Practice Self-Regulatory Model which was designed for member countries to use when establishing, maintaining and evaluating effective and efficient systems of advertising self-regulation.
The model is also invaluable when members wish to identify areas within their self-regulatory system for enhancement or improvement.
Ad Standards best practice accomplishments
At a meeting of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) in 2008, Ad Standards scored 100 per cent compliance with the WFA’s gold standard for advertising and marketing communications in self-regulation. Australia’s self-regulation system met what the WFA has declared to be the 10 essential criteria for gold standard status.
In the same year, Ad Standards conducted research into the views of the community to ensure that the decisions of the Ad Standards Community Panel (then known as the Advertisng Standards Board) stay in harmony with community standards on matters outlined in the Codes administered by Ad Standards. Consultation with international counterparts indicated that this was a world-first – none to that date had tested decisions made against the views of their community. Those views were tested again in 2012. Ad Standards has also commissioned research into Community Panel congruence with community standards in violence, sex, sexuality and nudity, discrimination and vilification and exploitative and degrading images, and will continue this research into the future.
As part of its ongoing commitment to international best practice in advertising self-regulation, Ad Standards researched and analysed EASA and other international approaches to appeals and review. From this information, Ad Standards developed and implemented an independent review process in 2008.
Ad Standards measures its performance in administering Australia’s advertising self-regulation system against international standards. The European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA), the World Federation of Advertisers and the International Chamber of Commerce Consolidated Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice all provide important benchmarks in this area.
EASA has a best practice model for advertising self-regulation and has also developed a number of best practice recommendations on issues of importance to self-regulators. EASA maintains contact with members on these issues and regularly seeks input from members and updates its publications.