The International Council for Advertising Self-Regulation just wrapped up its annual meeting in Istanbul. I was very pleased to represent the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance and the International Advertising Association at the meeting. Here are some of the highlights.

Key Issues

ICAS devoted its open meeting to panel discussions on two key topics -- "dark patterns" and diversity, equity, and inclusion in advertising.

During the dark patterns panel, which I moderated, we talked about the increasing attention on dark patterns, including recent enforcement from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. We discussed the OECD's detailed report on dark practices and how the concept of dark practices can cover a wide variety of deceptive and unfair practices. We also talked about how self-regulatory organizations around the world are incorporating thinking about dark practices into their enforcement efforts -- including the Advertising Standards Council of India's recent report on dark practices and the UK Advertising Standards Authority's recent decision involving Amazon's sign-up procedures for its Amazon Prime service.

During the diversity panel, we heard about the ways in which SROs around the world are tackling DEI-related issues and the importance of their work in this area. We heard about the Unstereotype Alliance's work battling the use of harmful stereotypes in advertising. We also heard about, among many other things, relatively recent updates to the advertising self-regulatory system in the United States, with both the National Advertising Division and the Children's Advertising Review Unit updating its codes to prohibit harmful stereotypes.

There's no question that we're going to continue to see a lot of attention from SROs around the world to these two very important topics.

ICAS Election

Guy Parker, the Chief Executive of the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK, was reelected for a second term as the ICAS President. In a statement, he said, "In the coming years, we will evolve the role of advertising self-regulation, focus on expanding our network, build even better relationships with stakeholders, and increase the visibility of ICAS and the great work of our members. Many challenges lie ahead, especially when it comes to advertising online, but we will continue our work to ensure advertising works better for everyone." Congrats, Guy!

ICAS Awards

ICAS also announced the winners of the ICAS Global Awards, which are given out every two years to recognize and celebrate self-regulatory initiatives that contribute to responsible marketing practices and a more effective and impactful self-regulatory system.

The Excellence Award went to AUTOCONTROL in Spain, for successfully extending the role of advertising self-regulation to data protection through working to change the law to allow the government to refer its advertising-related complaints to the SRO. The Inspiration Award went to the Advertising Standards Council of India, for transforming ASCI through impactful thought leadership, including through its GenderNext report. The Innovation Award went to Stichting Reclame Code in the Netherlands, for its online advertising monitoring project that has not only transformed its monitoring practices in the country, but has been rolled out to other SROs around the world. The Sustainability Award went to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority for its ambitious climate change work, that has been influential both in the UK and abroad.

I was very honored to chair the jury for the awards, which also included Onie Chu (Executive Director, Hong Kong 4As), Alexander Gligorijevic (Public Affairs & Advocacy, Campaign Unit Project Manager, IKEA), Katie Goldstein (Global Head of KidAware, SuperAwesome), Joel E. Nettey (Immediate-Past World President & Chairman, International Advertising Association), and Paula Fernandez Pfizenmaier (Legal Central Sr. Manager – Propiedad Intelectual, Mercado Libre).

In announcing the awards, ICAS released the following statement from me: "Advertising self-regulatory organizations around the world are doing incredible, ground-breaking work that is truly making a difference. This year’s winners of the ICAS Awards represent the best-of-the best. The work that we are so thrilled to be celebrating demonstrates how self-regulation can quickly and effectively – often with very limited resources – address, in a very impactful way, many of the most pressing issues we face today.

ICAS also announced a Special Recognition Award was being given to the Advertising Regulatory Board of South Africa, for facing significant challenges to its operations on multiple fronts while advancing the work of the SRO and the value of responsible advertising through effective self-regulation.

ICAS also announced that, at the next awards, it will be adding a new award, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award. The objective of this award is to celebrate ICAS’s partnership with the Unstereotype Alliance and to encourage all global advertising standards bodies to focus increasingly on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, help end harmful stereotypes in advertising and contribute to lasting change.

"The work that we are so thrilled to be celebrating demonstrates how self-regulation can quickly and effectively – often with very limited resources – address, in a very impactful way, many of the most pressing issues we face today"