UK Advertisers' Boss Warns Peers: 'Don't Push Your Luck'

29 April 2004

The clouds of potential legislation have gathered over the UK advertising business, driven by perceptions that the trade is all-powerful and lacks ethical responsibility.

So warned John Sunderland, one-time marketing director and now chairman of Cadbury Schweppes, in an address to the annual lunch of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in London.

Sunderland, who also serves as president of ISBA (the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers), told his audience: "We all believe in the importance of freedom to advertise. It is imperative we work together and coordinate our response."

He expressed concern that advertising is perceived in certain political, academic and consumer quarters as too powerful an influence. "We all know that good advertising is highly effective. But the negative side of overselling advertising is that politicians, pressure groups and the public are staring in the shop window."

Continued Sutherland: "It is a ridiculous myth that advertising has a dark power to overcome free will. But we need to make sure that we are realistic about the power of advertising and we are realistic about its limits."

Hailing the stonewall stance on ad controls taken by culture, media and sport secretary Tessa Jowell as "principled and rational and not easy", Sunderland appealed to his audience: “Please work with us to protect the freedom to advertise, with calm and reason – overselling the power of advertising could be dangerous."

Data sourced from: Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff