Europe's advertisers must act responsibly and embrace self-regulation, or face legal curbs on their activities.

That is the stark message from Christopher Graham – chairman of the European Advertising Standards Alliance and director general of Britain's Advertising Standards Authority – who warned that marketers were "constantly being scrutinised."

Speaking at the fiftieth anniversary conference of the World Federation of Advertisers, Graham declared that the desire to implement further restrictions on advertising was "unassuaged". The best way to counter this pressure, he argued, is for marketers to uphold the industry's integrity by behaving responsibly and backing self-regulation.

"The challenges for the advertising industry are expanding with the EU," Graham continued. "As more countries join the single market, it's essential that they also participate in the European self-regulatory framework. If self-regulation isn't working in one country, it's more likely that legislation will be implemented that applies to all."

Speaking of his work with the ASA (the self-regulatory body that oversees UK non-broadcast ads), he warned that the body could not become the ad industry's conscience, nor could it play "cops and robbers" with advertisers.

Earlier this year, the ASA announced that it had received a record number of complaints about ads in 2002 [WAMN: 02-May-03]. Plans are currently afoot to extend the body's remit to broadcast commercials [WAMN: 29-Oct-03].

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff