Who should regulate political advertising?

This week I was asked by Campaign, a leading marketing trade publisher, as to whether the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) should regulate political advertising.

As regular readers will know, much to my chagrin, political advertising remains completely unregulated in the UK. Political campaigns can say or claim anything they want without fear of legal or financial reprimand.

Below is my 100 word response and you can read the thoughts of other members of the advertising industry here:

Political advertising needs regulating.

More parties and groups, are making more ads, more quickly.

But widespread visibility of those ads has decreased, along with other safeguards against the spread of disinformation.

Regulation would inevitably generate controversy.

Requiring the ASA to repeatedly weather such storms risks compromising their good reputation for regulating commercial advertising.

Both the Election Committee of Ofcom and the Electoral Commission are better placed.

A system for pre-clearance of factual claims and transparency around the universe of messaging being used by parties are two measures that would help restore trust in political campaigns.

Election campaigning: how to spend it

Benedict Pringle article in Campaign how to spend it

On Wednesday this week the Electoral Commission published the details of money spent by political parties on General Election 2015.  I’ve written an article analysing the relative merits of their expenditure for advertising industry trade magazine Campaign, which you can read here.

About my vote

The Electoral Commission have released this new spot entitled ‘Silent Generation’.  It’s beautifully shot, the production values are high and the sound effects are impactful.

However, it’s an incredibly literal execution of a brief which would have been along the lines of “we need to make young people aware that if they don’t register to vote they won’t have say over their future”.  Sticking a young person as the lead role doesn’t mean that suddenly everyone under 25 is going to sit up and take notice when it comes on the box.

This audience are viciously cynical and adept at avoiding or blocking out advertising messages.  You need to be brutally original and provocative in both your creative and your media planning in order to stand a chance of cutting through.  If I were briefed to change the behaviour of young people who are not on the electoral register, I certainly wouldn’t come back with a script for a relatively placid 30 second TV spot.

Check out some of the recent work for the Metropolitan Police, for a highly effective, cost efficient and extremely innovative piece of creative work which goes after a similar demographic.