New Ethical Code Guides Marketing and Advertising Worldwide

The newly consolidated ICC code sets high standards for marketers.
The newly consolidated ICC code sets high standards for marketers.

Paris and New York, September 28, 2006 – To address new ethical challenges brought on by a rapidly changing media landscape, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) today published a consolidated and expanded version of its advertising and marketing codes.

Increasing consumer demand and use of new technologies has dramatically changed the way marketers interact with consumers. The new ICC code illustrates the recognition by companies that this fast-evolving media era requires the ethical rules and practices for traditional media be updated for the new media.

This is the eighth revision of the ICC International Code of Advertising Practice, which was first issued in 1937. The new consolidated code extends the scope from advertising to marketing communications and brings together guidelines for a range of marketing practices – from advertising on the Internet and via text messaging to the do’s and don’ts of communicating with children.

“We want companies to embrace this updated code of marketing communications in order to better serve their publics,” said John F. Manfredi, chairman of ICC’s Commission on Marketing and Advertising. “Consumers want to know that advertising in all mediums is honest and truthful, that it won’t deceive and mislead them. They also want to know the personal information they give companies will be properly protected. This Code provides that assurance from the hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world that abide by its precepts.”

With more than 8,000 member companies in over 140 countries, the Paris-based ICC is the largest, most representative private sector association in the world. It is represented in the United States by the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), its American national committee based in New York.

The ICC Code sets a high ethical hurdle that is well beyond legal requirements. For example, the code specifies that any scientific claims in an advertisement must be backed by unequivocal research and data made available for review, that marketers must safeguard personal information and discard it after a limited time, and that commercials aimed at young people never exploit their inexperience.

The code includes new chapters on electronic media, the telephone and green advertising claims, plus an expanded section on advertising to children.

The ICC Code was revised by a global task force of experts from ICC member companies, co-chaired by Anders Stenlund, director and senior policy manager of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, and Oliver Gray, director general of the European Advertising Standards Alliance in Brussels.

“The ICC Code is the long-standing, global ethical platform for the advertising industry,” said Mr. Stenlund. “This new, streamlined version is designed as a practical tool and should be a daily reference for all concerned with marketing communications.”

Mr. Manfredi, who has chaired ICC’s marketing commission for 15 years, has served as a senior executive for several of the leading consumer products companies of the world, including Procter & Gamble, Gillette, Kraft, Nabisco and General Foods. He noted that the ICC Code is one element of an extensive system of regulation that includes a global process of enforcement.

Around the world, code enforcement agencies review tens of thousands of cases annually involving violations that are corrected and businesses that are sanctioned. The number of cases handled by the code enforcement agencies far exceeds those brought by government regulators in many countries.

In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission brought more than 80 advertising cases before federal district courts in 2004. Code enforcers, such as the National Advertising Division and local chapters of the Better Business Bureau, reviewed over 12,000 cases that same year.

“ICC’s Code is an important new tool that will further enhance the effectiveness of industry self-regulation as an indispensable complement to government regulation,” said Mr. Gray.

The ICC Code is being introduced with a worldwide education effort that involves seminars, workshops and a range of print materials.

USCIB promotes an open system of global commerce in which business can flourish and contribute to economic growth, human welfare and protection of the environment. Its membership includes some 300 U.S. companies, professional service firms and associations whose combined annual revenues exceed $3 trillion. As American affiliate of the leading international business and employers organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade.

Jonathan Huneke, VP of Communications and Public Affairs or 212-703-5043


More information on the ICC Code

More on USCIB’s Marketing and Advertising Committee

Staff Contact:   Kira Yevtukhova

Deputy Director, Marketing and Communications
Tel: 202.617.3160

Kira Yevtukhova manages USCIB’s print and online publications, including the website, e-newsletter and quarterly magazine, and serves as the organization’s digital media strategist. Prior to this role, Kira worked for over five years within USCIB’s Policy Department, focusing on climate change, environment, nutrition, health, and chemicals related policy issues. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and has an MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
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