With little or no fanfare, CAP introduced significant changes to the CAP Code at the end of June. See below for Nick Johnson’s report as to how the changes could be more far-reaching than CAP has suggested.r
Who: Committee of Advertising Practice
When: June 2008
Law stated as at: 31 July 2008
On 24 June 2008, the Committee of Advertising Practice issued an amended version of the CAP Code, the self-regulatory code governing non-broadcast advertising in the UK. The amendments reflect the provisions of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (the UK implementation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive).
The amendments were not widely publicised and, unlike the corresponding changes to the BCAP Code (governing broadcast advertising), they were not subject to any prior consultation.
See here http://www.cap.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/7795C036-394A-4C4B-87B8-9B1867EEDDDB/0/CPRtrackchangesandreferencestoCPRS.pdf] for CAP's helpful document highlighting the changes and giving cross-references to relevant provisions of the Consumer Protection Regulations.
Why this matters:
It is not clear why CAP waited until nearly a month after the CPRs came into force before issuing its amended version of the Code. The draft legislation had been in final or near final form for a considerable number of months before that.
And while CAP has down-played the impact of its amendments, taking the line that they merely reflect the position under the CPRs, the impact for B2B marketers is in fact substantial.
While the scope of the CPRs is limited to B2C marketing, the CAP Code applies to both B2C and B2B. And the way that many of the CPRs' restrictions have been imported into the CAP Code makes them apply to B2B just as much as B2C. So, for instance, the prohibitions in the CPRs on 'bait' advertising and 'bait and switch' advertising have no corresponding prohibitions in the BPRs (Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008), but now apply to B2B marketers courtesy of the CAP Code.
The changes to CAP Code 32 (Free offers and free trials) also raise a question as to whether the 2007 CAP/BCAP guidance note on use of the word "free" in advertising is still applicable. However the writer has been assured by CAP that the 2007 note should still be regarded as an accurate representation of CAP's and the ASA's interpretation of the Code on this point.