ASC turns 15, Kicks Off Roadshow on Self-regulation for Consumer Protection

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April 3, 2023

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The Ad Standards Councill is fifteen years old. The country’s advertising content self-regulation unit, the Ad Standards Council (ASC) nestles in rich history. It is armoured with wisdom forged in fire, with a flourish of hard labour, deep thought, as well as sweat and sacrifice.

As the ASC celebrates this landmark anniversary of industry and public service this 2023, it also heralds the countdown to 2024 to mark the 50th anniversary of industry self-regulation. Defined as an organization running on its own codes, rules, guidelines without intervention from external bodies, the Ad Standards Council is the designated private sector organization in the country that upholds advertising content, creates and abides by a Code of Ethics and Standards developed and approved by its members for safeguarding consumer interest.

Says Blen Fernando, one of the industry pillars who founded the ASC in 2008, and ASC Chair 2021, and President 2022, “The big, bold decision to move ad content self-regulation from the Advertising Board to the Ad Standards Council was not done on a whim. It was a 2-year investment of time, talent and funds to create one focused, more efficient, independent Screening Body.” Fernando represented the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA) in a tripartite working group that included her counterparts from the Kapisanan ng Brodkasters ng Pilipinas (KBP) and the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of the Philippines (4As PH).

Fernando adds, “Now 15 years after, ad applications have grown four times over, working on 48,000 applications in 2022, tracking to end 2023 at 50,000. There was continued growth except in 2020 when operations were suspended for some time because of the pandemic.” Since its launch, ASC member organizations also increased from the original tripartite to its current roster of 7 associations including Media Specialists Association of the Philippines (MSAP), Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP), United Print Media Group (UPMG), and Out of Home Advertising Agencies of the Philippines (OHAAP).

Also, during the ceremonies, the ASC 2023 Board of Directors was inducted into office by the Honorable Alfredo Pascual, Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Sec. Pascual had the opportunity to share DTI’s efforts on protecting a digitally transformed consumer because of the pandemic. Economic recovery relies on the buying consumer across demographics now running on technology, effectively shifting into eCommerce platforms and fintech paying platforms. With the ease and efficacy of eCommerce and fintech come massive online fraudulent schemes, deceptive and unfair sales practices, and identity theft. The DTI Consumer Protection Group monitored the surge of over 57,000 consumer complaints during the first year the pandemic in 2020 from just 10,000 in 2019.


The DTI chief sees the urgency of effective collaboration with ASC and the industry. “This is where advertising plays a crucial role. Advertising reflects our culture and helps foster a safe and equitable consumer landscape. It is in creating a positive consumer environment where advertising comes in. Your industry is the face of the Philippines in the world through the content that you help create.

I hope that educating the consumer of their rights and responsibilities will increase consumer consciousness and surpass the current awareness level to go at 80%.”

In 2021, the ASC and the DTI renewed its partnership to fight against harmful and unlawful advertising means, disseminating false, deceptive and misleading information via Philippine mail, mass media in print, radio, television and now, more importantly, includes the internet.

Under this MOU, the ASC continues to protect consumers by pre- and post-screening of advertising content under compliance with the law and the ASC’s own ethics and standards. “We are grateful to ASC for doing this. The impact resulted in 25% blocking complaints on misleading advertisements and fraudulences nationwide, and the number of complaints falling from 1,200 in 2021 to 817 in 2022,” says Sec. Pascual.

Counting his three wishes, Sec. Pascual started with No. 1, the inclusion of online advertisements in the pre- and post-screening of advertising materials. No. 2, for ASC to help push for the enactment of the Internet Consumption Act that seeks to strengthen trust in e-Commerce and online transactions and encourages online merchants to uphold the rights of consumers and practice responsible business, in return earning a badge of trust to guide consumers. And No. 3, for ASC to grant DTI discounts and other concessions for advertisements of players in Trustmark.

“Let’s join forces to construct a resilient and sustainable economy where consumer safety is power. Let us implement initiatives that bring lasting benefits to the public. I urge (your) industry to collaborate actively with us to push Philippine advertising to new heights in compliance with the best in the world. Tell us how we can help you to achieve your dreams, because your success is also our country’s success. Together let us build a resilient and sustainable economy by prioritizing consumer safety,” said Sec. Pascual.

Aside from the DTI, the ASC works in partnership with government entities like FDA, DA, NMIS, MTRCB, DHSUD, DOLE, CAB, NTC, BSP, IPO, and NHCP among others.

At the core of an industry landscape both enthralling and unpredictable—time-bound and timeless, and local and global—ASC continues just as relentless in championing the best interests of the public consumer at all fronts.

Self-regulation in the time of post-pandemic, in a technology-aided, digital-resident communications industry, ASC data that Fernando shared shows growth in Pharma, Health and Wellness, and Dairy into the top 5 joining new categories of Software and Financial Services where Personal and Household Care categories topped pre-pandemic.

Pandemic-driven, leaps in technology, and the closure of ABS-CBN TV and radio led to digital now owning the lions’ 60-percent of total applications previously dominated by broadcast.

Safeguarding its future and that of its mandate of self-regulation, ASC has lasered on upgrading and radically revolutionizing its operations to be stronger and more resilient, recently completing major goals including rejuvenating its team; launching its 3-year sustainability strategy that comes with Octopus&Whale as Agency of Record; the naming of the Ad Foundation as its official advocacy arm; and a fully-online, experiential, and user-friendly ad application system.

“New media platforms have become a staple in advertisers media mix as we all know, advertising plays a vital role in shaping our society and culture. It has the power to influence the way people think, feel and behave. Therefore, it is our duty as members of the ad Standards Council to ensure that advertising content is fruitful, responsible and respectful,” shares Ike Canoy in a statement. Canoy represents the KBP and leads ASC this year as Chairman.

2023 President, Golda Roldan representing 4As, adds, “The Ad Standards Council has accomplished so much progress and transformation in the past 15 years. And we know this from firsthand experience through the years. I am confident that we will continue to make a positive impact and she would even better future for our industry. Let us continue to innovate and adapt to the changing times while ensuring that we have been true to our mission of promoting responsible advertising and consumer safety and protection. As we move toward us moving forward, let us remain committed to upholding the highest standards in the advertising and marketing communications industry.”

The Consumer whose safety, security and well-being are the foundation of the Council’s relevance has experienced the gamut of a changing society. With advances in the access to information, and its dissemination in the hands of ‘every Juan’ as creator and consumer, the ASC stands today both survivor and warrior—and just as weather-worn. But every bit much wiser, poised and ready to respond to even bigger challenges and opportunities.