LETTERS: Feeble curb on advertisers

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The Independent Online
Sir: With reference to your article, " `Offensive' posters send complaint levels soaring" (3 April), I am afraid the hundreds of people, myself included, who complain about advertisements are unaware that they are well-meaning but naive participants in an elaborate game arranged by the advertisers themselves.

The Advertising Standards Authority was set up by the advertising world to forestall government involvement, with the possibility of stringent legislation and penalties. Its existence leads the public to believe that something is "being done" about offensive advertisements but it is designed to be weak enough to make sure that the cheeky chappy school of advertising can ply its trade with impunity. The ASA puts the whole burden of "regulation" on to the few members of the public who take the trouble to write and lumbers into action only after advertisements are already causing offence in the public domain. The ASA acts as a focus for the furore generated by advertisers like Benetton and this leads to a magnificent bonus of extra free publicity.

L K Swift

Bolton, Greater Manchester

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