Who: Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP)
When: August 2016
Law stated as at: 23 August 2016
The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (“BCAP”) has updated its advertising guidance on Onscreen text and subtitling in television advertisements. This update aims at clarifying how the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (“BCAP Code”) applies to so-called ‘supers’ – i.e. text superimposed onto advertisements to provide additional information, usually for legal or regulatory purposes. The guidance entered into force on 23 August 2016 and is relevant for all text on screen which provides significant information likely to affect the viewer’s transactional decision.
Why this matters:
Broadcasters and production companies need to be aware of the principles set out in these guidelines and respect them to avoid getting into difficulties. Besides some general principles – such as not using supers to show the principal offer, but rather to expand it or clarify it and not contradicting the main offer in the supers – there are some specific rules. These include requirements as to the amount and communicability of text (and numbers), as well as text size, rules on the duration of hold and on the use of signs and abbreviations, with particular emphasis put on legibility and comprehension.
Violation of these rules can lead to significant consequences, as confirmed by the Safestyle UK decision, regarding duration of hold.
Best practice would generally reflect the following principles:
- Keep the sentence short (one line) and simple (one key idea);
- Show claim and related super in the same part of the advertisement;
- Avoid unfamiliar or long words, ‘legal’ words, jargon and abbreviations;
- Use colour combinations that allow the text to belegible;
- Opt for contrast with the background that makes the text legible;
- Comply with BCAP’s preferred minimum text height;
- Do not obscure supers with subtitles; and finally
- Follow the hold duration rules.