Who: Committee of Advertising Practice (“CAP“)
When: 31 March 2016
Law stated as at: 3 April 2016
CAP have issued updated guidance on verifiability in comparative advertising to help advertisers on the often-forgotten verifiability requirements of the CAP Code.
Under both the CAP Code and BCAP Code (rule 3.35 in both), advertisers are required to make comparisons with identifiable competitors based on verifiable information. In practice, this means giving consumers and competitors the opportunity to understand what the comparison is based on and encourages transparency when it comes to comparisons.
One recent ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (against Procter & Gamble (Health & Beauty Care) Ltd in December 2015) upheld a complaint on this very point. The advertiser had featured a comparison with an identifiable competitor and yet had not included information regarding the comparison or basis of the claim. Without such information, consumers or competitors could not verify the comparison and so the ASA determined that the ad breached the code.
The guidance reminds advertisers that they need to signpost consumers to where the information is available (with the suggestion of using hyperlinks) or let them know who they can contact in order to obtain the information. Depending on the comparison being made, this may be as simple as providing brief information or a link to your competitor’s prices but obviously more complex comparisons will need to clearly set out the information on which the claim is based.
Why this matters:
The updated guidance serves as a reminder that, as well as having substantiation to support any claims made, the Codes require advertisers to ensure that consumers can verify the comparison for themselves. By directing readers to this information, this requirement ensures that all comparisons are fair and easy to understand for both consumers and competitors.