Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Copy Advice Team
Where: United Kingdom)
When: 17 December 2021
Law stated as at: 5 January 2022
The ASA’s Copy Advice Team is able to provide advice to enquirers prior to publication of any non-broadcast advertisements or campaigns. The advice given is only in relation to the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code), which does not cover broadcast advertising and the Copy Advice Team do not offer legal advice. However, the team can help advertisers to determine any issues with their advertisements or campaigns before significant time and resources are invested in developing them. Using the team’s service can also help advertisers reduce the risk complaints in the future.
The ASA’s Copy Advice Team closed its copy advice telephone line on 17 December 2021. The result of this action is that all copy advice enquiries, including accompanying documents, must now be made through the ASA’s online webform. The option of a free advice service with a 24-hour turnaround or paid-for express advice service with a 4-hour turnaround remains in place.
According to the ASA, this change was needed in order to “maintain fairness and quality of advice to the users of our service”. Streamlining all enquiries through the webform means the ASA is able to deal with enquiries in the order in which they were raised. This queue system is designed to ensure enquirers are treated equally and no one can jump the queue (unless they have paid to use the express service).
The change is also designed to allow the Copy Advice Team to offer “more considered, higher quality advice” as they will have more time to consider existing guidance, ASA precedent cases and specialist views within the existing 24-hour response target timeframe.
Although enquiries must now be submitted online via a webform enquiry, where appropriate, the Copy Advice Team will continue to provide advice via telephone.
Why this matters:
In the event that an advertiser wishes to contact the Copy Advice Team to obtain advice in relation to an upcoming advertisement or campaign, this can no longer be done via their phone line and now requires the completion of a webform on the ASA website.
This change should result in enquiries being dealt with in a fairer way and there should be greater consistency in the advice provided by the Copy Advice service.