The International Council for Advertising Self-Regulation and the European Advertising Standards Alliance just published a joint report, "Advertising Self-Regulation in Times of COVID-19." Here are some of the highlights.
Advertising self-regulatory organizations continued to operate during the pandemic and many of them prioritized or fast-tracked complaints related to COVID-19. Some even instituted special procedures for submitting COVID-19 related complaints. For example, the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK created a quick reporting system and the Advertising Standards Council of India allowed complaints to be submitted via WhatsApp.
Many advertising self-regulatory organizations also issued statements about responsible advertising during the pandemic. For example, ICAS, EASA, and CONARED issued a joint statement condemning advertising that undermines public health advice and exploits people's anxieties and urging people to advertise reponsibly.
According to the report, from mid-March to mid-May, advertising self-regulatory organizations around the world dealt with more than 1600 complaints related to COVID-19 and also investigated more than 400 ads on their own initiative. The main issues that the ads presented were misleading health claims, financial claims, excessive pricing, offensive advertising, fearmongering, the promotion of unsafe behavior, and unavailability of advertised products.
The report also highlighted other actions by industry to educate marketers about responsible advertising during the pandemic, such as the report issued by the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance on worldwide advertising law developments in response to COVID-19.
"Advertisements started to appear around the world that undermined public health advice or exploited people's anxities"