UK Promo Marketers Angry at EC Thumbs-Down

29 May 2003

Proposals to demolish a Mont Blanc of discrepancies between the promotional marketing regulations of different EU member states have been rejected by the European Commission.

The decision has angered the European Promotional Marketing Alliance, a somewhat retiring organization based at the Brussels office of PR and lobbying agency Cabinet Stewart. EPMA had called for the creation of a European Internal Market in matters promotional to combat unbalanced economies of scale and encourage innovation and brand development.

Despite its crusading zeal, EPMA’s website (which has not been updated since January 24) is curiously reluctant to reveal either the identity of its officers or members.

However, Edwin Mutton, director-general of the UK’s Institute of Sales Promotion, explains that EMPA is not a trade body as such but a lobbying alliance to further the mutual interests of the ISP, FEDMA (Federation of European Direct Marketing Associations) and the British Promotional Marketing Association.

And if the genuinely European FEDMA seems an odd bedfellow for an otherwise British pressure group, it should be remembered (a) that direct marketing got its pan-European act together some years ago; and (b) there is a very blurred line dividing DM from promotional marketing.

According to Mutton, Britain has the most liberal sales promotion regime in Europe. Through EPMA, the ISP had aimed to extend the UK model across the EU. This aim, however, was not shared by yet another trade body, EACA (European Association of Communications Agencies) of which the ISP is a member.

EACA's opposition [especially from Germany, Europe’s most restrictive promotional market] is not difficult to understand. As Mutton admits: “It is the UK that stands to gain most from pan-European liberalization.”

The UK plan is now on the back burner. “On one hand,” says Mutton regretfully, “ministers purport to push for competitiveness and an internal market in European promotional marketing. Then the same ministers shore up the very barriers they have been seeking to remove for over ten years.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff