AANA updates definition of ‘advertising’ in response to evolving nature of PR

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), the body that administers the self-regulation of advertising in Australia, has announced a revised definition of ‘advertising and marketing communication’ to include relevant direct-to-consumer public relations materials. 

Material such as social media promotion, blogging and tweeting on behalf of a brand will now be captured by the AANA Codes, so that consumers can make complaints about this type of material to the Advertising Standards Bureau as part of the current system of advertising self-regulation.

Put simply, if it’s content distributed directly to the consumer that the brand can control – eg. it doesn’t go through a journalist working for a news organisation – it is advertising.

Brand owners will not be responsible for editorial content in traditional or social media which they did not produce or that they cannot control.

It’s a fairly common-sense definition, but until now the industry lacked a clear definition.

“Responsible advertisers are already taking the initiative and reviewing their consumer public relations communications against the AANA Codes, as it forms part of their advertising mix. This evolution aligns the AANA Codes with international standards and current practice among brand owners,” says Sunita Gloster, CEO of the AANA.

The AANA’s announcement was welcomed by the Public Relations Institute of Australia, with national president Mike Watson saying that it reflects and respected transformations in contemporary professional communication operating environments. “In addition to specialist communication with traditional publics, such as media, regulators, employees, investors, and so on, this evolution of AANA Codes reflects reality in that PR practitioners are now communicating directly with consumers more than ever before,” he says.

Mel Cullen, chair of the Public Relations Council, also approves of the approach, saying it provides members of the public with a clearer complaints procedure. “The AANA Codes ensure that when a member of the public has a complaint about marketing communication that is targeted at them, they can make a complaint to the Advertising Standards Bureau, irrespective of whether the material was produced by a public relations, marketing or advertising executive.”

The revised definition in the Codes will come into effect in 2016 and will apply to all AANA Codes and future codes.


Peter Roper
BY Peter Roper ON 23 October 2015
Editor of Marketing Magazine and Marketingmag.com.au