Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 154, Issue 2, pp 341–354 | Cite as

Autocontrol: A Critical Study of Achievements and Challenges in the Pursuit of Ethical Advertising Through an Advertising Self-Regulation System

  • Ramón A. FeenstraEmail author
  • Elsa González Esteban
Original Paper


The theory and practice of advertising self-regulation have been evolving for decades in pursuit of basic standards for advertising quality. In Spain, this discipline was put into practice in 1995, the year the Association for the Self-Regulation of Commercial Communication (Autocontrol) was created. This article aims to examine in depth the functioning of the Spanish advertising self-regulation system, with special emphasis on the Advertising Jury, and explore to what extent some of the normative requirements of rigour, independence and participation can be considered to have been met. The paper is based on a case study in which interviews with Autocontrol members, Jury members and consumer associations have particular bearing. The results shed light on the achievements of Autocontrol’s self-regulation work and the challenges it still faces.


Advertising self-regulation Autocontrol Consumer associations Advertising jury Advertising ethics Participation Independence 

List of abbreviations


Agencia Española de Consumo, Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition)


Advertising Standards Authority


Advertising Self-Regulation


Asociación de Usuarios de la Comunicación (Association of Communications Users)


Comité Español de Representantes de Personas con Discapacidad (Spanish Committee of Representatives of People with Disabilities)


Federación de Asociaciones de Consumidores y Usuarios de Andalucía (The Federation of Consumers and Users of Andalusia)


Self-regulatory organisation


Unión de Consumidores de la Comunidad Valenciana (Union of Consumers of the Valencian Community)



The authors, who are members of the Spanish research project FI2013-47136-C2-2-P, would like to express their gratitude to all the association members and individuals who were interviewed during the study, and for their attention, help and patience during the research project. In addition, the authors would like to acknowledge and thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments, which have greatly improved this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias Humanas y SocialesUniversitat Jaume I de Castellón (España)CastellónSpain

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