business news in context, analysis with attitude

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 23, 2004 — Referring to self-regulation of advertising as “one of the best kept secrets in the country,” C. Manly Molpus, President and CEO of Grocery Manufacturers of America has called on the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) to embark on a campaign to raise the visibility of its role and to expand its monitoring of food and beverage advertising. In a speech to the CBBB Board of Directors, Molpus discussed the importance of advertising self-regulation, which is administered for the National Advertising Review Council (NARC) by the National Advertising Division (NAD) and the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the CBBB.

Since its formation in 1971, NAD has handled more 4,000 cases and the compliance rate with its decisions has exceeded 95 percent. For that reason, Molpus noted, former FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky has called NAD the best example of self-regulation that he was aware of in American history. In addition, CARU has investigated more than 430 advertisements aimed towards children in the last five years and also enjoys a success rate of more than 95 percent in resolving child advertisement issues.

Molpus emphasized that effective advertising depends on consumers’ trust and respect, adding that GMA members have a longstanding commitment to responsible advertising and marketing practices, particularly when it comes to children. Referring to critics who argue “that industry cannot be trusted to communicate responsibly” and call for restrictions on food advertising and bans on advertising to children, Molpus said, “I can only conclude that they need to learn more about the system we already have in place.”

CARU’s self-regulatory guidelines have fostered advertising that promotes balanced diets and healthy lifestyles, which are critically important messages as the nation addresses issues of obesity and related illnesses.

Molpus added that as food companies continue respond to consumer demands by developing healthier food choices, advertising is the most effective way to communicate about those new products. “We think advertising is important to tell us all — adults and children alike — about new foods that will taste good and fit into a healthy lifestyle,” Molpus said. “Advertising can and should be part of the solution.”
KC's View: