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8 September 2004

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Direct mail 'policing' helps maintain industry standards

A Peterborough company which helps to 'police' the direct mail industry has welcomed news that high standards are being achieved.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has just carried out a survey which shows that 91 per cent of direct marketing material complies with the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion. This compares favourably with a similar survey carried out in 1996 when the overall compliance rate was only 85 per cent. The codes are designed to protect consumers from 'cowboy' traders

However, the ASA says that high proportions of mailings originating from outside the UK are breaching the codes. All of the overseas mailings examined in the survey broke the codes.

Commenting on the survey, Andrew Whittaker of Peterborough-based Mailtech, said: “We pride ourselves in being at the forefront of maintaining high standards and we ‘police’ all direct mail that passes through our doors. We offer our clients a service that not only prints and mails material but also advises on the content and its compliance with the many regulations in place.

"It is clear that our efforts, together with those of others throughout the industry, are helping to drive up standards.”

Earlier this year Mailtech was awarded the prestigious Quality Mail Production (QMP) standard from the British Accreditation Bureau in association with the Royal Mail and the Direct Marketing Association. To comply with the QMP Accreditation standard, Mailtech has formal production procedures in place, is aware of all advertising standards regulations and the Data Protection Act, and is able to advise on all Royal Mail postage schemes and other products.

The ASA survey was conducted over a seven-month period with a sample of 678 mailings examined. Most breaches of the codes related to text which tended to mislead readers. Technical errors were also recorded, for example insufficient prominence being given in sales promotion to important conditions.

The ASA will undertake another direct marketing survey in three years time to monitor trends in compliance. In the meantime, it is working with the appropriate regulators to try to stop misleading mailings being sent to UK consumers from overseas.

October 2001




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