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The war of rages on as Glaxo SmithKline and the ASA restate their cases
Mr Justice Hunt's decision last week to uphold the Advertising Standards Authority's ruling against Ribena ToothKind will have been greeted with a mixture of euphoria and relief at the ASA's London headquarters.
Major companies rarely resort to the courts to challenge an ASA verdict. The fact that Glaxo SmithKline did so indicates that the issues at stake go far beyond the 1998 trade press ads claiming that Ribena ToothKind "does not encourage tooth decay" that the ASA originally ruled against.
The ASA can only operate with the consent, approval and confidence of advertisers, agencies and media owners. Had it lost, its ability to make credible decisions and the impartiality of its expert advisors would have been seriously questioned. Furthermore, there's little doubt that a High Court defeat would have encouraged legal actions by other advertisers, each one costing the ASA thousands of pounds to defend.
Victory for the watchdog may have wide-ranging implications. It effectively sets higher standards for the scientific evidence required to substantiate health claims in advertising. From now on, it will be much more difficult for companies to cherry-pick research results that …