What is The Swedish Advertising Ombudsman (RO)?

The Swedish Advertising Ombudsman (Reklamombudsmannen in Swedish, abbreviated RO) is a self-regulatory organisation. Our main task is to review commercial advertising and make sure advertising standards are kept high by self-regulating the industry. RO also informs and educates the public, the industry and different government agencies in marketing ethics.

RO was founded in 2009 on the initiative of The Swedish Advertising Association and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprises.


What RO does

Before RO existed there where two ethical councils who reviewed advertising; the Trades Ethical Council against Sexism in Advertising and the Council on Market Ethics. The former focused on sexism and gender discrimination and the latter on other aspects of ethical advertisement, such as marketing to children and misleading advertisement. RO has incorporated these two councils. Thus RO handles complaints about both gender discriminating and otherwise unethical advertisements. RO uses the guidance of the Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Code) when reviewing advertising.

RO supplements article 4 regarding gender discriminatory advertising in the ICC Code with the following:

  • Advertising portraying men or women as sex objects that can be considered offensive and/or objectifying.
  • Advertising portraying men or women in a stereotypical way in terms of gender roles and where men or women are represented in a derogatory way (stereotyping).
  • Advertising that is discriminating or derogatory in other ways.


How RO is funded

RO is is funded on a voluntary basis through an annual fee from advertisers, advertising producers and media. Any company can contribute and the fee is related to the companies' annual media spending, according to Kantar Sifo's advertising measurements. The minimum fee is 10.000 SEK and the maximum fee is 70.000 SEK per year.


The RO Jury (RON)

Complicated cases or those which deal with subjects that have never been tried previously are referred to the RO Jury (RON). The Jury consists of a chairperson who is either a judge or a lawyer, lawyers and representatives from the advertising industry, Swedish universities and consumer interests.