The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB), which replaces the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA), commenced operations in the beginning of November 2018. The self-regulating ARB is now the go-to body for advertising content in South Africa on behalf of the advertising and marketing industries. The ARB will, in its new form, provide an invaluable role in self-regulating commercial speech, protecting consumers from misleading and potentially harmful advertising, and protecting marketers’ valuable advertising and intellectual property, such as product labels, trademarks, and logos.
When the ASA went into liquidation in September this year, it left a concerning void, as there is no other body which regulates the advertising and marketing industries and protects both the consumer and marketers. The original core members of the ASA, namely the Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA), the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), stepped into the breach as founding members of the ARB. It is hoped that the membership will grow as the ARB proves its mettle. Corporations or organizations that are concerned with advertising, sponsorship, and marketing will be encouraged to become members of ARB.
The ARB will continue to use and administer the ASA’s Code of Advertising Practice (which was an Industry Code) as its guiding document, accepting complaints from consumers and businesses, in the same way as the ASA did. All existing binding decisions made by the ASA, as well as all precedents and principles of the ASA, will continue in force and effect. The structure of the ARB will also be much the same as the ASA, with an Advertising Appeals Committee and a Final Appeal Committee.
While the ARB, like the ASA, has no jurisdiction over non-members, it may consider and issue rulings to its members (which are not binding on non-members) regarding the acceptance of any advertisement.
On its website, the ARB defines advertising as “anything that aims to promote the consumption or use of goods or services, or the support of a cause, that appears in any paid-for form,” including TV, radio, magazines and newspapers, direct mail, websites, social media, packaging, posters, and billboards.
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