Global Warming, Political Climate Heat Up For Advertisers

Global warming is keeping Daniel Jaffe up at night. Since it's his job to worry about looming threats to advertisers, it should probably keep marketers awake, too.

Jaffe, executive vice president for the ANA and its chief lobbyist in Washington, D.C., explained his concerns yesterday at the ANA's Advertising Law and Business Affairs Conference in New York.

"If this issue becomes hot, clearly someone will try to regulate products," said Jaffe. He pointed to Europe, where restrictive policies are going into place involving sustainability, green labeling and packaging. He said he could envision products branded as contributors to global warming or requirements to put disclosures on ads--or some ads facing restrictions altogether.

"Debate over potential solutions could lead to calls for taxes or restrictions on marketing for a broad range of products, from light bulbs to automobiles to energy sources," he said.

Jaffe has shown prescience before; he urged the industry to support Big Tobacco's fight against government regulation on the grounds that other industries could one day draw such scrutiny--evidenced with food and pharmaceutical advertising.

In addition, he says the emergence of 24 possible presidential candidates two years before the next election adds to the political vulnerability of advertisers.

There are also non-governmental interest groups weighing in--ranging from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the Institute of Medicine.

The hot spots on the horizon, as identified by the ANA, are:

  • Food marketing to children

  • All children's advertising

  • Prescription drug advertising

  • Consumer privacy issues

  • Advertising taxes

    Consumer privacy, Jaffe said, is one of those "sleeper issues" that has been less dominant in recent years, but is poised for resurgence.

    Ad taxes, meanwhile, will come to the fore this year as cash-strapped states look for new sources of revenue, and the Fed seeks ways to fund Iraq. Jaffe said he would not be surprised to see some kind of "good food/bad food" tax proposal.

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