CAF to do script clearance

Canadian food and non-alcoholic beverage advertisers can look forward to faster script pre-clearance for broadcast advertising.Effective Oct. 5, Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada will hand over responsibility for script pre-clearance to the Canadian Advertising Foundation.Canadian advertisers submit nearly 15,000 ads for...

Canadian food and non-alcoholic beverage advertisers can look forward to faster script pre-clearance for broadcast advertising.

Effective Oct. 5, Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada will hand over responsibility for script pre-clearance to the Canadian Advertising Foundation.

Canadian advertisers submit nearly 15,000 ads for pre-clearance each year.

Foundation President John Coleman says the caf will make every effort to approve, or disapprove, scripts, within a maximum of 48 hours.

Significantly faster

If the caf manages to be even reasonably successful in its efforts, pre-clearance turn-around time will become significantly faster than it was under Ottawa.

At its most efficient, the federal department, which has handled the pre-clearance process for 25 years, has been known to give pre-clearance inside 48 hours.

Much to the frustration of advertisers, however, it usually takes weeks.

John Foss, president of the Association of Canadian Advertisers, says the delays occurred in large part because advertisers had begun flooding the department with ads that made new nutritional and environmental claims.

New product claims

Ads featuring new product claims take longer to process because Consumer and Corporate Affairs must seek appropriate approvals from other government departments, such as Health and Welfare Canada and Environment Canada.

Compounding Ottawa’s woes, at the same time it was struggling to deal with the influx of new product claims, budget constraints suddenly dictated the department would have to get by with fewer personnel.

The staff shortage was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

While Consumer and Corporate Affairs has had many formal and informal discussions with food and non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers over the years about giving the industry the right to pre-clear its own advertising, the issue was suddenly front and centre with everyone.

In the winter of 1991, a working group was established to study the matter and make recommendations.

The working group included Consumer and Corporate Affairs, the caf, the Grocery Products Manufacturers of Canada, and the Consumers’ Association of Canada.

Consumer and Corporate Affairs will work closely with the caf in the early going as the foundation hires and trains four new staff members to handle the new work load.

To recoup the higher pre-clearance processing costs resulting from the recent increase in new product claims, and also to underwrite the cost of the new staff members it was intending to hire, the Consumer and Corporate Affairs had been reviewing the establishment of a cost-recovery fee for advertising pre-clearance.

That fee, which had been scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, has now been dropped, but the caf will introduce its own pre-clearance fees.

The cost will be $25 for each evaluated scrip, not including gst.

Consumer and Corporate Affairs will continue to pre-clear new product claims, which account for about 3% of the industry’s total annual pre-clearance requests.

The caf has established a Food Advisory Committee, with representation from all major stakeholders, to oversee the clearance function and provide a review process for advertisers. PA