Sexist probe into moral standards

A NATIONAL billboard produced for Windsor Smith shoes last year has prompted a government enquiry in Victoria into the portrayal of women in outdoor advertising.

While there are no plans for any government intervention in billboard advertising in WA, the inquiry has drawn attention to industry regulation.

Lesley Brydon, of the Advertising Federation of Australia, said the AFA believed the advertising industry should remain self-regulatory.

“Our view is that self regulation is far and away the most sensible form – most modern governments are moving right away from government regulation,” Ms Brydon said.

“We understand there are some issues with outdoor advertising and the AFA are currently having discussions with the Outdoor Advertising Association and we’re seeking discussions with the Advertising Standards Bureau.”

The AFA has its own code of ethics for advertising agencies, but agencies are asked to think for themselves and take responsibility for the work produced.

“Advertising’s role is to be controversial I guess, but when things that are blatantly sexist or offensive, that would be considered a breech of our code,” Ms Brydon said.

Cody Outdoor Australia general manager Richard Herring said he was not aware of any move towards government regulation in WA.

Mr Herring said one of the problems in advertising was that things were often dealt with through the media’s interpretation of the issue rather than open public debate.

“We are trying to establish a group of people who can put forward a recommendation about their thoughts on the subject and I’d much rather it be done in a formal manner,” Mr Herring said.

Mr Herring said the most effective way to register concern about advertising material was to go to the client and demonstrate what was offensive.

“I think if advertising is done in the correct manner our morals or standards are not too different from the government,” Mr Herring said.

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