NARC stalled on $ troubles

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Despite this time of plenty in the ad business, money can't seem to be found to hire a full-time president for the National Advertising Review Council to lead and invigorate the ad industry's national advertising self-regulation program. That's the message from the recent NARC meeting, and it is very disappointing.

The NARC president post was axed more than a year ago. The Council of Better Business Bureaus, a NARC member along with three national ad industry associations, called for the ad business to come up with the $300,000 or so needed. Last week, CBBB President Ken Hunter said funding is still unresolved. In other words, the ad industry has not stepped up to put its money where it says its heart is--in a more active self-regulatory program led by a full-time president who can take it to new levels of usefulness.

With a full-time president, NARC might be less reluctant to tackle tougher issues in marketing, such as those raised by Coors Brewing Co., which asked NARC to review whether Coors beer ads appealed to underage drinkers. The beer industry split on Coors' request so NARC said it was unwilling to get involved. If, however, self-regulation is to be sold as a real alternative to more government controls, its advocates will need the determination to push unwilling marketers to cooperate, and the kind of aggressive leadership a full-time president would provide. These are great dreams. Too bad the industry can't seem to get past what should be the easier part: the money.

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