Interpreting offense in advertising: A regulatory perspective

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Given the lack of attention paid to the interpretation of offensive advertising by different stakeholder groups and the actual offence caused, this study aims to explore how offence and harm have been attributed to non-profit advertising by complainants and regulators and how the associated organisations respond in light of these formal complaints and adjudications. We content analyse 9,055 consumer complaints received by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), UK, in the period of 2009–2015 as well as the associated 309 complaint adjudication reports concerning offensive and harmful advertising within the non-profit sector. Our findings suggest that charities (38%) and issues related to children (46%) are most often complained about. A thematic analysis of the rulings shows certain disconnects in the discourses across the three stakeholder groups (complainants, regulators, associated organisation) with the current self-regulatory system appearing to favour the industry. The understanding of these discourses helps to contribute to the ongoing debates on the appropriateness, ethics and application of offensive themes, formats and imagery in non-profit advertising as well as the debates on effectiveness of self-regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarketing Transformation: Marketing Practice in an Ever Changing World
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 2017 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) World Marketing Congress (WMC)
EditorsPatricia Rossi, Nina Krey
ISBN (Electronic)9783319687506
ISBN (Print)9783319687490
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
ISSN (Print)2363-6165
ISSN (Electronic)2363-6173

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • regional perspective
  • Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
  • advertisement offices
  • offensive themes
  • formal complaint


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