ICC Publishes New Advertising, Marketing Code

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To address new ethical challenges brought on by a rapidly changing media landscape, the International Chamber of Commerce has published a consolidated and expanded version of its advertising and marketing codes.

The consolidated code, published on Sept. 28, is the eighth revision of the ICC International Code of Advertising Practice, which was first issued in 1937. A global task force of experts from ICC-member companies revised the code. It was co-chaired by Anders Stenlund, director and senior policy manager of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, and Oliver Gray, director-general of the European Advertising Standards Alliance in Brussels.

"In rewriting these several codes, we were able to update them in the light of the new technical and geopolitical realities now faced by consumers and businesses," said Charles Prescott, vice president, Global Knowledge Network Services, the Direct Marketing Association and a member of the revision task force. "We spent nearly two years and had participants from around the world. The code represents a global consensus on ethical advertising and marketing practices."

"In addition, the code creates a solid foundation for the development of self-regulatory regimes by business associations in the emerging markets." Mr. Prescott said, adding, "As always, the most important words in the code regarding marketing messages and practices continue to be "legal, decent, honest and truthful."

The new code extends the scope from advertising to marketing communications and brings together guidelines for marketing practices from advertising on the Internet and via short messaging service to the do's and don'ts of communicating with children.

The ICC said the new code sets a high ethical hurdle that is well beyond legal requirements. For example, the code specifies that any scientific claims in an advertisement must be backed by unequivocal research and data made available for review; that marketers must safeguard personal information and discard it after a limited time; and that commercials aimed at young people never exploit their inexperience. The code includes new chapters on electronic media, the telephone and green advertising claims, plus an expanded section on advertising to children.

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