"Advertisers, agencies and media must act and be seen to act to execute industry self-regulation across an enlarged single [European] market," exhorted Anthony Simon, president of marketing at Unilever Bestfoods.

Preaching to the converted, Simon was addressing an event hosted by the European Advertising Standards Alliance, at which delegates from all three sides of the industry adopted a Charter of Best Practice -- in the symbolic presence of EC director of consumer affairs Agne Pantelouri.

Alarmed by the growing pressure from governments and consumers alike to regulate food and alcohol advertising, the ad industry launched a pre-emptive strike, stressing its commitment to a strong self-regulatory system across the enlarged EU.

EASA chairman Christopher Graham asked rhetorically: "Why shouldn't legislation support and fill the gaps left by effective self-regulation, rather than self-regulation be left to fill in the gaps left by often ineffective and unenforced legislation?"

And in a statement from the UK's Advertising Information Group, director Andrew Brown spelled out the industry's stance.

"Through the Charter of Best Practice, the European advertising industry continues to demonstrate its commitment to effective and rigorous self-regulation of advertising.

"The AIG fully supports the drive to ensure that the continuing acceptance of self-regulation by European consumers and governments can best be assured by the application of common principles in all self-regulatory systems across Europe."

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff