Changing the name of an organization is often more internal politics than external policy. But in the case of the National Advertising Review Council—now known as the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council—the new name (and website) is squarely aimed at the federal government. NARC is also not a very endearing acronym.
By specifically calling out self-regulation as the mission of the Council of Better Business Bureaus unit, the advertising industry is sending a clear message that it means to keep government regulators at arm's length.
The ARSC sets policies and guidelines and monitors compliance for a number of ad industry self-regulation programs governing the truth and accuracy of advertising claims, children's advertising, and online behavioral advertising.
"If we don't respond with self-regulation then that creates momentum for legislation," said Lee Peeler, the president and CEO of ASRC, in an interview last month with Adweek. "We can come up with approaches that will evolve over time, like the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and the Digital Advertising Alliance. Otherwise, the government is left with coming up with a one-size-fits-all solution. If that becomes unworkable, it's hard to change it."
Last year, for example, the industry successfully fought off proposed voluntary federal guidelines for marketing food to children by strengthening its own guidelines, which go into effect at the end of next year. In online privacy, the industry beefed up its self-regulatory program with measures to bring its members into compliance.
"The notion that advertisers could or would self-regulate was greeted with some skepticism in 1971. Since that time, however, the industry has consistently demonstrated its commitment to the establishment and enforcement of strong, meaningful standards," said Peeler said in a press statement.