All businesses produce promotional leaflets, advertisements, articles and more to get their message out there. Avoid trouble later on by ensuring your copy adheres to the Advertising Codes…
What is ASA and CAP?
The Advertising Standards Authority is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media. They apply the Advertising Codes, which are written by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP). Their work includes acting on complaints and proactively checking the media to take action against misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements.
The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) write and maintain the UK Advertising Codes, which are administered by the Advertising Standards Authority. They also offer the industry authoritative advice and guidance on how to create campaigns that comply with the rules.
Why does it affect me?
If you’re in business then you will be using marketing in one form or another and this is where the ASA and CAP come in. The Advertising Codes are del-regulated but are also mandatory so whether you like it or not, you need to ensure that your promotional materials comply. There are different rules for different areas of business and you can find out more from their websites, including the following pages:
UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code)
The Code is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, who can take steps to remove or have amended any ads that breach these rules.
This basically applies to any advertisements that are broadcast via TV, radio and online broadcasting. See more info here: http://www.cap.org.uk/Advertising-Codes/Broadcast-HTML/Introduction.aspx
UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code)
This Code must be followed by all advertisers, agencies and media. The Code is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, who can take steps to remove or have amended any ads that breach these rules.
This applies to pretty much everything else, including printed promotional leaflets, brochures, articles, sales promotions etc and non-broadcast advertisements – view the full list here: http://www.cap.org.uk/Advertising-Codes/Non-broadcast-HTML/Scope-of-the-non-broadcast-CAP-code.aspx
How do you know your copy is correct?
Well, the rules are clearly stated on the website (see links above) and it is up to you, the business owner, to ensure that you’re up to speed with what is relevant to your industry.
Any complaints about your advertising would be dealt with by the ASA and they would check the materials for compliance against these Advertising Codes.
When creating copy for your own promotional materials (in house or external), ensure that the words comply with the regulations and you’ll be fine.
Remember, if using a copy writer, to let them know if there are any key points they need to bear in mind when writing. Most will keep up to speed on the regulations but ultimately it is your business and money on the line so it’s always good to make sure you give them the tools and information they need to ensure the finished piece is great copy AND also complies with the Advertising Codes.
If you want to make sure you’re all clear, the ASA actually offer a free copy checking service and an aim to respond within 24 hours, so may well be worth considering, especially if your business is in one of the more complicated sectors. They also offer a paid option if you need a very fast turnaround for advice.
If you want your entire website to be audited for compliance then you can also organise this via the ASA too – the service starts at £960+vat(correct at time of writing) and you can find out more on their Website Audits page.
If you want to keep up to date with new rulings, the ASA offers a weekly update in the form of a newsletter
In a nutshell…
– Read through the Advertising Codes that affect your industry and be aware of the regulations that are most likely to affect you.
– Ensure that what you write is compliant before you spend too much time, effort and money on the design and publication to save any problems further down the line.
– Be aware that the rules are updated regularly so make a point to check back every few months to see if there has been any changes that might affect you.