Following lobbying by the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, officials at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have toned down the penalties for some types of marketing outlawed by the EU's Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD).
The DTI had been considering criminal sanctions for 31 practices. Most related to business scams, but industry bodies were concerned two could have led to penalties for responsible advertisers.
The first was 'directly exhorting children to buy advertised products or persuade their parents to do so'; the second was 'using editorial content to promote a product without making it clear to consumers'. However, last week the DTI announced that neither of the two would be criminalised.
The trade bodies had argued that criminalisation would undermine self-regulation through bodies such as the ASA. According to ISBA public affairs director Ian Twinn, marketers would have faced a 'double jeopardy' of self-regulatory penalties and criminal charges.