So you’ve been notified that your ad received a complaint and Ad Standards is investigating a potential breach of the advertising rules. What now?
A little background
Ad Standards accepts complaints about advertising from members of the community. Complaints are lodged via our website, and a single complaint is enough to initiate a formal investigation. All complaints are promptly assessed to determine whether the ad raises any issues under the advertising codes.
If your ad is found to raise an issue, we’ll get in touch with you straight away and provide a copy of the complaint to help you understand what the issue is. You’ll then have an opportunity to provide a written response which will be considered by the Ad Standards Community Panel when assessing the advertising content. The timeframe for response is usually 5 business days. Our determination summaries can be a good resource to use when writing responses.
The Community Panel meeting
The Community Panel meets regularly to consider complaints. Community Panel members discuss their ideas and consider varying points of view, including yours, before coming to a final decision. They will consider:
- the original complaint(s)
- all relevant advertising material
- the advertiser’s response to the complaint
- all relevant provisions of the codes, and
- any other relevant supporting material or other representations or submissions.
The Panel reaches its decision by way of simple majority.
When the Community Panel considers a complaint, it can make one of two determinations:
A complaint is dismissed if the Community Panel determines there is no breach of any of the advertising codes. When a complaint is dismissed by the Community Panel, advertisers are usually advised of the determination within a few days of the Community Panel meeting. The decision to dismiss the complaint is reflected in the case report that is published on our website.
If the Community Panel determines there is a breach of a code, the complaint is upheld. The advertiser is notified of the decision and is asked to remove or amend the ad as soon as possible.
Advertisers have 5 days to respond to the Community Panel’s decision and confirm that the ad has been, or is being, amended or removed. The Community Panel’s decision and the case report, incorporating the advertiser’s response to determination, is provided to complainants and published on our website.
If an advertiser does not modify or discontinue the ad within the allowed time frame, we will:
- include the advertiser’s failure to respond in the case report
- forward the case report to media proprietors who may remove the ad
- if appropriate, refer the case report to the appropriate government agency or industry body.
What happens if you disagree with the decision?
An independent review process is available to both the advertiser and original complainant/s. Requests for review must be made within 10 business days of the date of the final notification of the Community Panel’s decision.
There are costs associated with lodging a request for review, and review requests must meet certain grounds for review.
If the review request is accepted an Independent Reviewer will make a recommendation to the Community Panel, stating whether the Community Panel’s original decision should be reviewed or confirmed.
If you have any questions about the complaints handling process, feel free to get in touch.