ASC General News

ASC Publishes New Interpretation Guideline to the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards re Motor Vehicle Advertising

The issue of safety in auto advertising has been an emerging and important issue in Canada for the past several years. ASC has been hearing more frequently from consumers about automobile advertisements that they believe depicted unsafe driving and/or driving at excessive speeds. Of interest to industry, consumers and governments across Canada, the auto advertising safety issue has been particularly prominent in the province of Quebec. In 2007, legislative provisions were adopted obligating the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) to work collaboratively with the industry to establish guidelines aimed at prohibiting any advertisement that portrays a road vehicle and conveys a careless attitude with respect to road safety by presenting situations that encourage reckless, dangerous or prohibited practices or behaviour.

To tackle the issue, the SAAQ asked ASC, as Canada’s national advertising self-regulatory body, to participate in the development of new voluntary guidelines that would meet the needs of industry, the public and SAAQ’s obligations. Led by the SAAQ, a working group was convened that included ASC, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada, the Association of Canadian Advertisers and the Association des agences de publicité du Québec. Other working group participants included Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and Transport Canada.

Following a collaborative and intensive process, the working group developed a new motor vehicle advertising guideline released and published by ASC on September 24, 2009 as Interpretation Guideline #4 - Alleged Infractions of Clauses #10 or #14: Motor Vehicle Advertising. "Positive cooperation among all stakeholders meant that together, we were successful in developing a guideline that could be built on the existing self-regulatory structure of the Code and avoid the need for more binding measures," commented Janet Feasby, Vice President, Standards for ASC.

The Guideline will help ensure that motor vehicle advertisements are created to comply with the spirit of Canadian road safety laws. It includes eight broad principles, in the form of questions, which will provide guidance to motor vehicle manufacturers and their advertising agencies in the production of advertising that is creative and effective, while respecting road safety concerns and conforming to the Code. The Guideline encompasses such issues as speeding, aggressive and unsafe behaviour, and depictions of races or competitions.

Click here for the new Guideline.

ASC 2009 Q3 Complaints Report Now Online

ASC has released its 2009 Q3 Consumer Complaints Report covering the period from July 1, 2009 to September 30, 2009. The report provides case summaries of consumer complaints about advertising that were upheld by the Consumer Councils under the provisions of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. In its year-end 2008 Ad Complaints Report, ASC noted that with the economic downturn, consumers are becoming more value conscious - comparing prices and searching for deals and discounts. Overall, consumers are scrutinizing advertisements with an increasingly critical eye. This trend is continuing through the second half of 2009, as can be seen by many of the upheld complaints in this Q3 Report.

Advancing Self-Regulation In Canada and Abroad

ASC senior management participates in a wide range of seminars and forums to contribute to the global advancement and education pertaining to responsible advertising self-regulation. On October 14th, Linda Nagel, ASC's President and CEO, participated as a guest lecturer at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity in New Haven, Connecticut. Speaking to an audience of researchers, faculty, students and members of the community, Linda shared her insights on the progress and success of the Canadian Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative one year later and the importance of responsible advertising industry self-regulation in the area of children's food advertising. Sharing the podium with Linda and providing the American perspective on the issue, was Elaine D. Kolish, Vice-President and Director, Children's Food and Beverage Initiative, Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.. Following the seminar, a podcast on the issue was recorded. This podcast will shortly be available on the Rudd Center Website at

Did you Know

ASC Contributes to Development of International Guide

On September 8, 2009 the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) released its new international guide for advertising self-regulation. The first of its kind, the new guide features practical advice on setting up and consolidating advertising self-regulatory systems and incorporates various international experiences in the creation of self-regulatory organizations. “The development of this publication is consistent with our objective to help ensure that mechanisms for responsible and effective advertising self-regulation exist around the world,” said Linda Nagel, CEO of Advertising Standards Canada and chair of EASA’s international council. “Since advertising issues are increasingly global, it’s important that countries work together, especially as various organizations like the World Health Organization or other international bodies make recommendations on effective advertising.”

The guide was produced in partnership with the World Federation of Advertisers and International Advertising Association. To read the guide, go to the EASA site.

ASC Clearance News

Children’s Broadcast Advertising Clearance Guide

Watch for ASC Clearance Services updated Children’s Advertising Guide. The Guide will include new, relevant examples as well as our Interpretation Guidelines that apply to food depicted in children’s advertising to help advertisers, advertising agencies and broadcasters develop, schedule and present commercials that comply with the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children (Broadcast Code). The launch of the new guide is expected before the end of the year.

Upcoming ASC Events

Save the Date! ASC Clearance Services Holiday Breakfast and Seminar

ASC Clearance Services is pleased to announce that we will be hosting our Holiday Seminars once again this year for our Clearance customers. Our analysts will provide a brief overview of new issues that have arisen in the regulatory landscape for food, cosmetic, drugs and natural food products, alcohol and children’s advertising in Canada over the course of the past year.

Save the date:
Montreal – Wednesday, November 25th at the Vogue Hotel
Toronto – Tuesday, December 1st at the Marriott Hotel on Bay Street

Watch for your invitation to meet ASC’s Clearance Services Team and network with industry friends and colleagues at this very popular industry event.

Planning is underway for our ASC and ASC Clearance Services Winter 2010 program of workshops and seminars. Watch our events calendar for postings.

Upcoming Industry events and courses

Check Out Upcoming Industry Events & Courses

ICA Professional development workshops and courses
ACA Fall Courses
CMA Events

Strength in Members

In this issue of Communiqué, we continue our salute to the people and organizations that support advertising self-regulation through membership in ASC.

John D. Coyne, Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Unilever Canada Inc. and Vice-Chair, ASC Board of Directors

John Coyne Unilever Canada is one of the founding members of ASC and, as one of Canada’s leading advertisers, has been a strong supporter of all aspects of ASC’s activities. Most recently, Unilever Canada joined 17 other companies as founding subscribers to the Canadian Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative. Unilever’s commitment to ASC and responsible advertising self-regulation in Canada is embodied in the dedication and hands-on involvement of John D. Coyne, the company’s Vice-President and General Counsel.

A graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston and Osgoode Hall Law School, John practiced law at a large corporate Toronto law firm for seven years before joining Unilever Canada in 1992. Over that time, he worked on a wide range of transactions and restructurings as Unilever Canada evolved, taking on a variety of challenges including the restructuring of the Good Humor-Breyers ice cream business as Director of Corporate Planning.

Today, John provides leadership across a range of areas working with professionals and multi-disciplinary teams in corporate and government relations, regulatory affairs, quality assurance, safety and law, to enable Unilever to achieve its objectives and enhance its reputation. He is a member of Unilever’s board of directors, Canadian Leadership Team and chair of the company’s Pension Benefits Administration committee.

Externally, John represents Unilever across a range of industry related organizations on the boards of directors of Advertising Standards Canada, the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, Stewardship Ontario and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. He is also co-chair of the steering committee for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s Partners in Project Green.

In his work with ASC, John brings both leadership and a sincere commitment to a robust and responsible self-regulatory framework. “Advertising self-regulation is a critical feature of our ability to connect with Canadian consumers in the most effective and responsible manner,” explains John, who was elected as an ASC Director in April 2005 and was elected Vice-Chair in April 2007.

ASC’s strength lies in the ongoing support and commitment of our members and volunteers who generously donate their time, expertise and resources. We are stronger for the contribution of John Coyne and membership of Unilever Canada.

Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) is the national not-for-profit advertising industry self-regulatory body committed to creating and maintaining community confidence in advertising. ASC administers the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, the principal instrument of advertising self-regulation in Canada, and a national mechanism for accepting and responding to consumers’ complaints about advertising. ASC members include leading advertisers, advertising agencies, and media organizations.