Who: Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
When: 6 August 2014
Law stated as at: 8 September 2014
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), who write and maintain the UK Advertising Codes administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), have published new Frequently Asked Questions. These FAQs are designed to provide useful advice on how CAP’s Copy Advice team can assist advertisers and media agencies with their prospective non-broadcast advertisements.
The FAQs don’t introduce any changes to CAP’s or the ASA’s position on the matters referred to, but bring together in one place some existing guidance and information on the CAP Copy Advice service and the ASA’s remit, including in relation to:
– Substantiation requirements;
– Media covered by the CAP Copy Advice service (TV and radio are outside their scope);
– Applicability of the CAP Code to marketing claims in social media;
– Turnaround times for CAP Copy Advice*; and
– How CAP Copy Advice is taken into account when the ASA investigates an ad.
Why this matters:
These new FAQs are a reminder of the useful service the CAP Copy Advice team can provide for advertisers. They offer free, confidential (from competitors) advice on ads at any stage of a campaign. While use of the service does not give immunity against any subsequent ASA investigation, it may have some beneficial effect – even if only by way of a reference in the adjudication to the fact that Copy Advice was obtained and followed, demonstrating a responsible approach on the part of the advertiser.
That said, many advertisers find that the CAP Copy Advice team has a tendency (perhaps understandably) to err on the side of caution with compliance advice. This can leave the advertiser in a difficult position – once fixed with advice from the Copy Advice team, it becomes that much more risky for the advertiser to go with a different – but still potentially compliant – approach. This is because the ASA will be made aware in the event of any complaint about the ad that the advertiser had disregarded guidance from CAP Copy Advice – immediately putting the advertiser on the back foot in the investigation. The Copy Advice team’s approach on the matter may also naturally influence the ASA’s analysis.
The FAQs can be found here.
(* Interesting to see that the FAQs – probably a “marketing communication” according to the CAP Code and ASA practice – refer to CAP’s Copy Advice 4-hour “express service”. However be aware – this is not mentioned in the FAQs – that the express service comes at a price (currently £250+VAT – or £170+VAT if you pay online). Also, some significant terms and conditions apply, including that the 4-hour service is not available for any material that the Copy Advice team considers “raises complex issues”.)