Public Affairs watch-outs for 2016

If you would like to know more about ISBA's Public and Regulatory Affairs work, contact: 

Ian Twinn

ISBA's Director of Public Affairs. 

2016 presents a series of challenges to advertising; most of which will turn out to be the threats already on the agenda.

But our biggest threat will probably be events.

  • The world economy (BRIC) is slowing, not restarting, at a time when the UK could do with growing markets. In a climate of caution will there be the marketing budgets to spend on advertising? If not then UK media income will be under the cosh and the landscape may change towards a dispersed media landscape more quickly than we would suppose.
  • An overwhelming political attention to the EU referendum. Together with political concern over the Middle East and the asylum issue.

Threats do not disappear just because public attention is on other issues. In fact experience suggests it is just the time to inflict bad news.


Whilst UK attention may be on our relationship with the EU normal business will continue in Brussels and Strasburg, at least to the extent that the economy and the refuge crisis allows.

Much of our law governing advertising and marketing comes directly from EU Directives and Regulations. This year we can expect the finalisation of the data protection rules which have been gestating since 2012. This will impact on data collection and use.  Alongside this is the current rejection of the Safe Harbour agreement with the USA.  In general 2016 will be a year of tighter controls.

We will also see more guidance on Green Claims under the consumer directive, in this case mostly common sense and reflecting UK practice.

The Commission has just announced a complete review of consumer law, including the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

The plans to revisit the TV rules (Audio Visual Media Services Directive) is planned in 2016 with a focus on how the rules can be rolled out to cover the internet, not just ‘TV like’ services.


The Scottish Referendum: Scotland voted to stay in the Union with the UK Parliament making a ‘vow’ to extend powers to Holyrood which will be put through the House of Commons in 2015.

UK Government

The 2015 General Election, saw the Conservative elected on a majority in the House of Commons.

Food and Drink             

A wider battle field is opening up with the next push being against all of us as citizens for weight gain. The Public Health movement has its eyes not just on children but on us, our diets, portion size and especially on sugar content in the diet. It may not be for the coming year but the demands will surface for marketing restrictions.


e-cigarettes have been become a controversial issue, with the ban of cigarette advertising for more than 20 years many saw this as a backwards step, but many health experts have outlined this as a medical alternative. However the ban on advertising, imposed by the EU will need to be implemented in Member States by the end of May this year.  BCAP will be taking action to ensure the UK ad code reflects this.

BCAP and CAP have now in the autumn of 2014 outlined the rulings of advertising e-cigarettes to a wider audience making sure they do not appeal to under 18’s and younger people and also not encourage any non-nicotine users.



The ad codes have political support, but the debate continues over minimum pricing; this cause inevitably keeps advertising and promotion on the agenda. More recently the anti food business lobby has added alcohol to the list of calory and obesity campaign issues.Visit our alcohol issues page.

Data Protection

The data protection laws failed to be passed in Brussels before the election and the new Commission. We now face a very bumpy and unpredictable time with the possibility of sudden shifts in positions as the new parliament, revisits is commitments. Visit our data issues page


The Gambling (Licencing and Advertising) Bill has passed in the House of Lords and Commons. The Bill will ensure that all remote gambling operators offering services to British consumers will be subject to consistent regulation. The ASA has reviewed it’s record on adjudicating on complaints and the CAP and BCAP codes are refreshed until the EU law comes into effect.


The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) became the regulating body, taking over from the Financial Standard Authority (FSA). There are some hot issues surrounding loans, but advertisers welcome a more consultative approve from this powerful regulator.

Payday loans remain another contentious issue in parliament, with a motion to ban these adverts from being shown on children’s TV, which was rejected by the government. The issue is likely to reappear before May 2015.


Advertising to children is a highly contentious issue, but a practice which ISBA believes is legitimate if done so responsibly. Amongst the numerous industrywide initiatives in place to protect children in this regard is the 2011 Children’s Pledge to not use peer-to-peer marketing, and the release of the Digital Adwise Parent Pack to help guide parents and carers with commercial influences arising from our modern world.
2015 has seen an academic study on food and beverage marketing to children published by Dr. Barbie Clarke and Siv Svanaes. The report was produced for Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) which highlighted that advertising regulation is in the UK is currently working at a right level, with robust, proportionate and sensible rules protecting children on online soft drinks and food advertisements. Further studies will be concluded on immersive advertising in Q3.

Link to the report: HERE