What exactly is self-regulation? We looked it up in the dictionary and its answer was unsatisfying. Self-regulation has been a hot topic for the past decade, and for good reason. The most notable reason is the banking industry; a group that basically regulated itself, with limited to no supervision. When the end of 2007 came, so did the U.S.'s booming economy.
Financial institutions are not the only ones that created self-regulating entities. The agriculture industry has BigAg, a group of major corporations that decide what goes on in the industry before being told by federal regulators. The fast food industry created a self-regulating committee that decided "rules" against advertising to children and young adults, and to parents who are completely unable to establish authority.
So why think that AdLand would be any different?
Truth is, if any industry needs a self-regulatory organization, it should be advertising. With politicians, consumer advocacy groups, angry moms, the FTC, FDA, and a host of others ready to pounce on one flinch or bad move by AdLand, its self-regulatory entities should be the first ones to catch it.
But who are they?
A recent "snafu" by Mashable brought these folks into the limelight. The story goes that Mashable took off the "sponsored by" copy on a 20-article series that was sponsored by Qualcomm while it was trying to promote its processor chip, Snapdragon.
What was formerly known as NARC, the National Advertising Regulatory Council, put all its regulation friends under a new, collaborative umbrella, ASRC: the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council.
The ASRC board, along with its member bodies, is composed of brand marketers, agencies, and the public (educators/consumers) to make sure the councils have a well-rounded view of the situation. Not to mention that the ASRC site tells us that the site itself is hosted by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
So how are they doing?
You see, they go after certain high-profile cases, like the Qualcomm and Mashable one, because they get big-time news articles and blogs writing about them. Do they avidly go out and sniff out bad advertising practices for the sake of advertising? We couldn't gather up enough evidence to make the case for it.
But NARC is newly reformed, and brought friends to the party. That's a good thing. Let's see if it works.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.