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Ad regulators must stop focusing on the food industry, says Glanbia

MARKETERS who ignore industry rules time and again and run ads to shock consumers and grab media attention do a lot of harm.

Speaking at an Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) seminar on responsibility in marketing communications, Glanbia Consumer Foods chief executive Colin Gordon (pictured inset) said one bad communication damages everyone.

Gordon, whose background includes marketing roles at John Player tobacco and Bulmers Cider, said Ireland's food production observes stringent controls.

Regulations are "massively important", but are expensive to implement. As the owner of the Avonmore brand -- second only to Coca-Cola in Irish grocery sales -- Glanbia is aware of the cost involved.

Ireland's food industry comes in for an unwarranted level of attention from advertising regulators, Gordon added.

Such special treatment risks undermining Irish food brands.

Food and beverages only account for 10pc of all ad spend in Ireland, yet they get much more than 10pc of the discussion on proposed regulations. Care must be taken to recognise what has already been done in consumer education and product improvement.

Otherwise, the food industry -- the cornerstone of Ireland's economy and future growth -- may come under threat.

ASAI complaints committee chairwoman Bairbre Redmond said the authority was not amused by the huge danger posed by advertisers who reoffend.

Self-regulation won't work if there is "weak and fractured" support from adland.

Repeat offenders not only let themselves down, they damage things for everyone in adland.

ASAI chairman Ed McCumiskey said the authority was reluctant to fine its voluntary members and they had to be realistic.

Forcing advertisers to scrap expensive advertising campaigns earlier than planned was punishment enough.