With effect from 30 March 2012 (fridges and TVs) and 20 April 2012 (dishwashers and washing machines) new energy labelling rules apply to advertising for specific “energy-related products.” The Committee of Advertising Practice has announced related changes to the CAP and BCAP codes and Omar Bucchioni reports.
Who: Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
When: March 2012
Law stated as at: 2 April 2012
In March 2012 the CAP and BCAP Codes have been amended with the introduction of new rules which require that all advertisements for specific energy-related products (subject to delegated regulations) that include energy-related information or price information must indicate in a standard format the product’s energy efficiency class to enable consumers to also choose on this basis when deciding as to whether making or not a purchase.
This follows a wider European Union harmonisation of national measures relating to the publication of information on the consumption of energy and of other essential resources by household appliances. The ASA rules are derived from Directive (EC) No 2010/30/EU and the Energy Information Regulations 2011.
Quick explanatory note
“Energy-related product” or ‘product’ means any good having an impact on energy consumption during use, which is placed on the market and/or put into service in the Union with the exception of (a) second-hand products; (b) any means of transport for persons or goods; (c) the rating plate or its equivalent affixed for safety purposes to products.
“Product fiche” is a data fiche i.e. a standard table of information relating to a product.
“Delegated regulations” state the date on which the relevant energy labelling requirements for advertising come into force and outline the information that marketers must provide in the product fiche. To date, the following implementation dates have been announced.
- Cold appliances (from 30 March 2012)
- Dishwashers (from 20 April 2012)
- Washing machines (from 20 April 2012)
- Televisions (from 30 March 2012)
- Air conditioning (from 1 July 2013 – provisional)
The new rules
The new rules added to the (CAP) UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing are:
9.10 Marketers must make product fiche information about products that fall under delegated regulations available to consumers before commitment.
11.8 Marketing communications for specific energy-related products, subject to a delegated regulation, that include energy-related information or disclose price information, must include an indication of the product’s energy efficiency class i.e. in the range A+++ to G.
The new rules added to the (BCAP) UK Code of Broadcast Advertising are:
8.6 Advertisers must make product fiche information about products that fall under delegated regulations to consumers before commitment.
9.9 Advertisements for specific energy-related products, subject to a delegated regulation, that include energy-related information or disclose price information, must include an indication of the product’s energy efficiency class i.e. in the range A+++ to G.
The ASA will not investigate whether the energy efficiency class cited is correct and will forward all such complaints to the National Measurement Office which has been appointed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as the market surveillance authority for the UK.
CAP and BCAP have published a single set of guidance to help advertisers, agencies and media owners on the interpretation of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code) and the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (the BCAP Code), although this does not bind the ASA Council in the event of a complaint about an advertisement that follows it.
Useful marketing information
When energy efficiency class of a product must be stated:
Advertisements for specific energy-related products which include either of the following, will be subject to rules 11.8 (CAP Code) and 9.9 (BCAP Code).
- “Price information” may include the price of the specific model advertised, but may be more general and state, for example, “Get 20% off” of a particular model(s).
- “Energy-related information” will include claims about the product’s energy efficiency or use.
A “specific energy-related product” will include the presence of a specific model in an advertisement.
If an advertisement features either of those characteristics, and the product is subject to a delegated regulation, it must indicate its energy efficiency class as defined by the criteria set out within that regulation.
If more than one specific model is included in an advertisement, and the advertisement features either of those characteristics, and the products are subject to a delegated regulation, the energy efficiency class for each product should be referenced as defined by the criteria set out within the relevant regulations.
The rules do not apply to advertisements which promote a brand generally, such as “Brand X Fridges available at Store Y”, but will apply if the advertisement features a specific model and is accompanied by energy-related or price information.
The rules also do not apply if the specific product sold is second-hand. For the purposes of this guidance “second-hand” refers to products which have been put into use. Marketers that advertise goods which have been previously sold but not used are not considered to be second-hand so advertisements for those goods are subject to this guidance.
How energy efficiency class of a product may be indicated:
All advertising with a visual element
The energy efficiency class must be included next to the specific product advertised, e.g. the relevant class (i.e. A+++ to G) appearing as a graphic next to the product advertised.
The energy efficiency class must be stated after a specific product has been mentioned, e.g. “Product X. Energy efficiency class A”. This can be abbreviated (as long as the meaning is clear to consumers), e.g. “energy class A” or “energy rating A”.
Sponsored links/messages on social networking sites
For marketing communications where marketers are extremely limited by character space, the energy efficiency class of a specific product can be referenced on a subsequent landing page – as long as it is no more than one click away from the initial advertisement.
When specific energy-related products are sold via distance selling (e.g. teleshopping), marketers must make the label and the product fiche information, which is set out in delegated regulations, available to consumers before commitment – e.g. by providing consumers with a link to a website with the relevant product information – as long as it is possible to access that information prior to making a commitment to purchase.
Why this matters:
Marketers, brand owners and advertisers should take extra care when offering/promoting energy-related products which have a significant direct or indirect impact on the consumption of energy and, where relevant, on other essential resources during use and must ensure that they fully comply with the relevant rules and regulations. Just by way of a reminder, these new regulations do not apply to (a) second-hand products; (b) any means of transport for persons or goods and (c) the rating plate or its equivalent affixed for safety purposes to products.
For more information see: