New campaign highlights ‘value of advertising’

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The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) launched a global campaign yesterday (6 October) to “champion the value of advertising to political audiences”.

The campaign will seek to “highlight the benefits of advertising to the economy, society and consumers” so that they are better taken into account by policymakers “when setting rules about what the marketing industry can and cannot do”. 

It does so by means of an “online toolkit“, featuring surveys, presentations and other communications materials, “designed to help the [advertising] industry to reach out to political audiences worldwide”. 

Advertising regulation is increasingly seen by EU institutions and national governments alike as a means of responding to issues such as climate change as well as societal concerns such as obesity and alcohol abuse. 

But “the many benefits of advertising are too often overlooked when regulating our business,” according to WFA Managing Director Stephan Loerke. The federation particularly highlights the role of public service advertising in addressing societal challenges such as raising AIDS awareness, fighting domestic violence and promoting the use of seat belts. 

For Loerke, the launch of the campaign “marks the beginning of a collaborative industry effort to get back on the front foot when we talk to politicians about advertising”. 

With the aid of national advertising associations, the campaign will deliver the “clear and consistent message” that advertising “powers economic growth” by helping companies to succeed and “increases value for consumers” by stimulating competition. Moreover, it creates jobs by boosting economic growth, funds “a diverse and pluralistic” media and funds sports and cultural events, argues WFA Communications Director Will Gilroy. 

Back in January, the European Commission proposed strict nutrition labelling rules to help consumers make healthy choices and combat obesity (EURACTIV 31/01/08). 

However, the WFA is also quick to warn of the “potentially counter-productive effects of restrictions on advertising freedom”. Indeed, despite finding support from consumer organisations and health NGOs, at the time the food and drink industry expressed “serious concern” over the nutrition labelling plan, particularly regarding a ‘traffic light system’ whereby products with high fat, salt or sugar content would be marked in red (EURACTIV 17/04/08). 

The World Federation of Advertisers brings together 55 national advertiser associations worldwide as well as 52 multinational corporations, together representing 90% of global marketing and communications expenditure. 

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