Monday 21 May 2012

The Utterly Useless Advertising Standards Authority

Last week, Matthew Offord provoked a Twitter spat with fellow Conservative MP, Mike Freer. Offord told a constituent that he would not be voting in support of a bill to legalise same sex marriages. In response, Freer called Offord “misguided”. This is typical of Freer who has never been able to accept the fact that there are people in the world who dare to hold a different opinion to him. Regular readers will recall a charming interview given by Freer in 2009 in which he suggested that his opponents masturbated whilst writing about him.

The debate about gay marriage has featured prominently in the blogosphere recently following the dishonest and vindictive inquisition by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of the self-styled Archbishop Cranmer, a private individual with deeply held religious convictions. Cranmer’s blog carried an advertisement on behalf of the Coalition for Marriage which the ASA decided worthy of investigation on the grounds of alleged homophobia. Don’t Call Me Dave reproduces the advertisement below in support of the right of citizens not to be vilified merely for taking a contrary view to the liberal metropolitan elite now ruining running the country.

Quite separate to the gay marriage debate, DCMD has his own reason to hold the ASA in contempt. Many years ago, he used to run a mail order company. One of the products sold was a device which, when affixed to a car’s fuel line, was reputed to improve fuel efficiency. The advertisement carried a no quibble guarantee. If customers were not entirely satisfied that the product worked, they could return it for a full refund, no questions asked.

A member of the anorak fraternity complained to the ASA about the advertisement, who in turn launched an investigation. DCMD provided the ASA with reams of statistical evidence produced by an independent laboratory which supported the ad's claims. This was summarily rejected by the ASA. They did not provide any counter evidence to refute the data provided by DCMD. Indeed, the person conducting the investigation, who appeared to have no mechanical engineering experience or qualifications, simply decided that he was not minded to accept it. The idea that you can reject independent scientifically based evidence simply because you don’t like the sound of it is, as Cranmer has discovered, the behaviour of a tyrant and a dictator.

The ASA took it upon themselves to ban the advertisement. DCMD did not have the means to challenge their decision. It did not matter to the ASA that no customer ever returned the device for a refund. As Cranmer has discovered, the ASA are a law unto themselves. They are a jumped up band of self-appointed half wits - nay, quarter wits - who have no experience or understanding of the real world;  a bunch of misbegotten turds - jobsworths of the highest order - looking for a means to justify their existence.

Teenage magazines are full of gratuitously offensive and demeaning advertisements featuring sexualised imagery of young children. Do the ASA investigate these advertisers? Of course not, because they haven’t got the balls to stand up to the big corporations with their expensive lawyers, who could crush them into the ground as soon as look at them. How much easier it is to pick on the small guys who will succumb in awe to their perceived greatness.

Except now, thanks to the publicity surrounding Cranmer, the ASA are receiving the opprobrium they so richly deserve. It transpires that the ASA’s ‘powers’ are not quite as extensive as they would have you believe. DCMD wishes he knew then what he knows now about the limits of the ASA’s actual legal authority. If he had, he would not have wasted time and money producing evidence worthy of a high ranking Q.C. . Instead he would have simply invoked the established defence of Arkell v Presdram.


baarnett said...

So how, technically, did it improve fuel efficiency, DCMD?

Or did people minded to buy it also then start to drive in a more fuel-efficicient manner?

Don't Call Me Dave said...

I have absolutely no idea how it worked. The advert contained technical blurb provided by the manufacturer but it was beyond my level of comprehension (I can just about fill the tank with petrol). The public were protected by our full money back guarantee. In those days mail-order companies were bonded, so customers were doubly protected.

Perhaps the device did have a psychological affect on the way people drove their cars. If so, then this proves that it worked. It didn’t matter how it worked as long as it did.