Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Data & Marketing Commission | Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Tribute to Matti Alderson

28th October, 2020 at 12:49pm

On 16 September 2020, we said goodbye to Matti Alderson, former Chair of the Direct Marketing Authority (before she launched the Direct Marketing Commission) and former Director General of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), but we have not lost her legacy, described as “an unrelenting focus on making sure that all UK ads are legal, decent, honest, and truthful.”

A passionate advocate of self-regulation, Matti was a committed leader of the UK ad watchdog, which has credited her as a “driving force” in raising its profile. In 1974, Matti joined the ASA as a case officer and became Director General in 1990, spending ten years in the role, in which she particularly focussed on regulating tobacco advertising.

During her tenure, Matti also helped co-found the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA), the organisation that coordinates advertising work of self-regulatory bodies across Europe. She became Vice Chair in 1997, the same year Matti joined other industry figures at the European Parliament to give a powerful presentation on the portrayal of women in advertising.

When Matti left the ASA in 2000, its annual report praised her contributions.

She went on to become Managing Director of FireHorses, which providedadvice on regulatory policy and strategy to clients in the public and private sectors, and lead the Direct Marketing Authority (now the Direct Marketing Commission). She expanded the DMC’s role and influence, developed the responsibilities of its directorate, and strengthened relationships with the industry and consumers.

Charles Ping, former DMA Chairman and currently Industry Commissioner on the DMC, said:

“I was lucky enough to work with Matti as DMA Chair when she started her tenure at the DMC.

Matti arrived at the Direct Marketing Commission with a fully rounded understanding of how a regulator works, and what makes the difference between a regulatory environment that supports good business and one that doesn’t. Her view was robust, questioning and always centred in a fair view of how regulation should work.

From her time at the ASA, she instinctively understood that clarity and consistency were key, as well as the ability to clearly articulate the logic behind decisions. It was a challenge within a regulator who had a remit to regulate the code of a body, not an all-encompassing industry wide endeavour, and this made for an interesting journey over the years.

Matti’s commitment to the DMC was clear and she will be remembered by me, and those with whom she worked, as a professional committed to improving the standards of industry through better regulation.”

The obituary from The Times stated that Martha (Matti) Hallyburton Connolly was born on 20 December 1951 in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, the daughter of Edward, a captain in the Merchant Navy, and Helen, a nurse. She lived in London with her husband Alan Alderson, IT Director for the Bauer Media Group.

“The couple did not have children, but welcomed young people into their home every year from the former Soviet regions affected by the Chernobyl disaster. They never formally adopted but supported one Belarusian boy from the age of 11 through school and university. He later changed his name to Alex Alderson and called the couple mum and dad.”

Matti died peacefully of undisclosed causes at the age of 68.

The DMA and DMC expresses their deepest condolences to Matti’s family, and the many colleagues and friends she left behind within the ad industry and beyond.