Wednesday, 28 April 2010

More ASA regulations

What we cover (Remit)

Media concept - remote controlWe deal with most types of ads but not all. If we can’t deal with your complaint ourselves, we will try to help you contact the right body.

And the types of ads we deal with include:

  • Magazine and newspaper advertisements
  • Radio and TV commercials (not programmes or programme sponsorship)
  • Television Shopping Channels
  • Posters on legitimate poster sites (not fly posters)
  • Leaflets and brochures
  • Cinema commercials
  • Direct mail (advertising sent through the post and addressed to you personally)
  • Door drops and circulars (advertising posted through the letter box without your name on)
  • Advertisements on the Internet, including banner and display ads and paid-for (sponsored) search (not claims on companies’ own websites)
  • Commercial e-mail and SMS text message ads
  • Ads on CD ROMs, DVD and video, and faxes
  • We regulate sales promotions, such as special offers, prize draws and competitions wherever they appear.

Advertising Codes

Colourful booksThe Advertising Codes lay down rules for advertisers, agencies and media owners to follow. The Advertising Standards Codes are separated out into codes for TV, radio and all other types of ads (‘non-broadcast advertising’). There are also rules for Teletext ads, interactive ads and the scheduling of television ads.

Who writes the rules?

The ASA is not responsible for writing the rules. The Codes are written by the advertising industry through the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP). The members of these committees comprise the main industry bodies representing advertisers, agencies and media owners (including individual broadcasters).

BCAP is responsible for writing and maintaining the TV and Radio Advertising Standards Codes.

CAP is responsible for the rulebook for non-broadcast advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing. Non-broadcast means ads in media such as cinema, press, posters and online.

What do the rules say?

The Codes contain wide-ranging rules designed to ensure that advertising does not mislead, harm or offend. Ads must also be socially responsible and prepared in line with the principles of fair competition. These broad principles apply regardless of the product being advertised.

In addition, the Codes contain specific rules for certain products and marketing techniques. These include rules for alcoholic drinks, health and beauty claims, children, medicines, financial products, environmental claims, gambling, direct marketing and prize promotions. These rules add an extra layer of consumer protection on top of consumer protection law and aim to ensure that UK advertising is responsible.

The ASA administers the rules in the spirit as well as the letter, making it almost impossible for advertisers to find loopholes or ‘get off on a technicality’. This common sense approach takes into account the nature of the product being advertised, the media used, and the audience being targeted.

Direct links to the Advertising Codes


British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code)


TV and Radio Advertising Standards Codes (BCAP Codes)

ASA regulations

Control of ads

Hand holding a whistleHow is advertising in the UK controlled?

Good advertising is good for consumers and good for business.

Research has shown that consumers view advertising as an integral part of everyday culture - a source of information and entertainment. However, the acceptance of advertising by consumers relies not just on its entertainment value, but also on its trustworthiness.

The UK marketing industry recognised the need for trust in advertising when it set up the advertising self-regulatory system for non-broadcast advertising in 1961. Since then, the UK’s system of self-regulation has helped to ensure advertising remains responsible: honest advertising helps to keep customers coming back. Read more about the history of the ASA.

Today, the UK advertising regulatory system is a mixture of

Broadly this means that the system is paid for by the industry, which also writes the rules, but those rules are independently enforced by the ASA.

The system is a sign of a considerable commitment by the advertising industry to uphold standards in their profession. All parts of the advertising industry – advertisers, agencies and media – have come together to commit to being legal, decent, honest and truthful in their ads.

How it works

Our aim is to keep UK advertising standards high.

Although the ASA is primarily a complaints-based regulator (we consider around 26,000 complaints a year) we don’t just wait for complaints to come in. We also work alongside CAP and BCAP to help deliver a comprehensive regulatory approach.

We undertake many other regulatory activities to ensure advertising stays within the rules. For example, the ASA in all media and regularly undertakes compliance surveys of advertisements published by sectors about which there is a particular societal concern or in sectors where compliance may be unsatisfactory.

And together with CAP and BCAP, we work to support the industry to help them get their ads right before they are published. For example by providing guidance, pre-publication advice and training for the industry.

The Codes

In the UK, the rules for advertising are written by the advertising industry through two Committees: the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP).

For more information go to The UK Advertising Standards Codes.

Find out more about CAP and BCAP and the work that they do on their website.


The system is financed by advertisers through a small voluntary levy of 0.1% on display advertising expenditure and airtime and 0.2% of the Royal Mail's Mailsort contract. The ASA receives no public funding from the tax payer.

Read more about funding in our Governance and accountability section.


The Advertising Codes require that all claims must be substantiated before being published or aired.

Broadcast Advertising

The vast majority of TV and radio ads are pre-cleared before they are broadcast.

Under their licences broadcasters must take reasonable steps to ensure that the ads they broadcast are compliant with the TV and Radio Advertising Codes.

To help them do this, the broadcasters have established and funded two pre-clearance centres:

Clearcastfor television commercials

The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) for radio ads.

Non-broadcast Advertising

There are many millions of non-broadcast ads published every year in the UK, so it would be impossible to pre-clear every one of them. For example there are more than 30 million press advertisements and 100 million pieces of direct marketing every year.

However, lots of advice and guidance is available through CAP Copy Advice.

The CAP Copy Advice team provides free pre-publication advice to advertisers, agencies and media to help them create advertisements; promotions and direct marketing that meets the CAP Code.

As well as providing bespoke advice on individual campaigns, the team also updates a searchable online database that the advertisers, agencies and media can check to read the latest positions on hundreds of different advertising issues.

CAP also produces a free quarterly email newsletter, em>Update, to keep you up to date with all the latest developments.

Regulation after appearing

Even though many steps are taken to ensure ads are compliant before they are aired or published, consumers have the right to complain about ads they have seen, which they believe to be misleading, harmful or offensive.

The ASA can act on just one complaint. We don’t play a numbers game: our concern is whether the Codes have been breached. Of course, sometimes the number of complaints received can have an impact – this is particularly the case when we are considering matters of taste and decency.

Once we have received a complaint, the complaints team will assess the marketing communication, the nature of the objection and decide how best to resolve the complaint.

Read more about the complaints process in the Complaints & investigations process section.

Monitoring and compliance

The ASA does not just wait for complaints to be made about ads; we also proactively monitor ads to keep advertising standards high and maintain a level playing field for business. The Compliance and Monitoring team also conducts regular surveys into specific media or industry sectors to ensure the Codes are being followed in those areas.

Read more about the monitoring and compliance work in the Monitoring compliance section.


The vast majority of advertisers comply with the ASA’s rulings and they act quickly to amend or withdraw an ad that breaks theCodes. We have a range of effective sanctions at our disposal to act against the few who do not and ensure they comply with the rules. The commitment of media owners to help enforce the ASA’s rulings is also a crucial element in the effectiveness of our sanctions.

The first sanction – and one of the most powerful – is the weekly publication of our adjudications that generates a great amount of media attention in the UK, and frequently internationally. The negative publicity can significantly damage an advertiser’s reputation, particularly if it is seen to be flouting the rules designed to protect consumers and fair competition. Our rulings are published on this site for five years. Some adjudications may be available for longer if they are used as a reference in AdviceOnlineand Help Notes produced by the Committee of Advertising Practice to help advertisers interpret the Codes.

The second sanction is the refusal by media owners to feature ads that break the Codes. This means we can ask publishers not to print problematic ads, and broadcasters cannot air them.

Other sanctions exist to prevent direct mail that breaches the Code from being distributed and to reduce the likelihood of posters appearing that breach the Codes on grounds of taste and decency and social responsibility.

Ultimately, the ASA can refer non-broadcast advertisers who persistently break the Codes to the Office of Fair Trading for legal action under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008. Broadcasters who continually air ads that break the Codes can be referred to Ofcom, which has the power to fine them or even revoke their license. Such referrals are very rarely necessary as the vast majority of advertisers and media owners respect ASA decisions and agree to comply with the Codes.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Children's Toys

The Bratz brand, which has remained number one in the UK market for 23 consecutive months focuses core values on friendship, hair play and a ‘passion for fashion’.Bratz spokesman, The Daily Telegraph

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The entertainment industry and its effect on children

The entertainment industry, especially music videos, are a cause for concern as the watershed does not seem to affect how much sexually explicit content can be viewed by children during the day. On top of the videos, lyrics are not censored enough. Although there may not be swearing in the songs, lyrics like “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick” set a more mature tone.

Disney's children stars are also causing controversy with their antics on and off screen. Miley Cyrus is estimated to be worth around $1 billion at the tender age of 16. The Hannah Montana film is loved by children and took $150,077,611 worldwide gross in cinema. However some of the lyrics seem adult for her target market. With children aspiring to be like Miley, lyrics such as "I know just what you’ve come here for, and I want to hear you scream and more...i'll get you loud, i'll wear it out" and "when you're a VIP you get whatever you please, what's not to like...designer clothes you wear one time, tell me now, who wouldn't love it?" promote a lifestyle that is unattainable for most and too ‘grown up’ for her younger listeners. One photo-shoot that Miley did was labeled as very unsuitable as she posed in nothing but a sheet at 15 for Vanity Fair Magazine. She very quickly apologised publicly for her behaviour, but this should have been stopped in its tracks due to her age. On top of her TV show and live performances, Miley’s personal life has be pasted over the internet with semi-naked images of her circulated for children to find after they were released by an apparent ex-boyfriend. For someone who is looked up to as a role model, she seems to be tarnishing her squeaky clean image.


Thursday, 15 April 2010

Children's Toys

Children’s toys, specially girls toys, have become more sexualised in recent years. Bratz dolls have become more and more popular with young girls and have made a £500 million profit on average every year since their release. The Bratz Movie took over $38 Billion in America alone. They all look overly made-up and wear inappropriate clothing when being sold to girls of such a young age. These ‘diva’ like dolls all have heels and glamourous accessories and seem to be about only having fun. Barbie on the other hand is more about the different careers women can have, with hospital Barbie and vet Barbie. Bratz dolls sell a bar which promotes a very inappropriate lifestyle for children and underage drinking.



Sunday, 11 April 2010

Teenage Pregnancy Rates

Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe with over 8000 girls under the age of 16 getting pregnant in 2007, whereas Belgium and Sweden have a much lower rate of only 7 girls per 1000 teen girls, over 29 girls in the UK. In the U.S the CDC has recently done extensive research into teen pregnancy and reports that 1 in 3 american girls will get pregnant before 20th birthday. The 3 reasons they believe are due to family circumstance, for example, coming from a broken or single parent home, advertising on TV and a sexually explicit entertainment industry.

"" http:en.wikipedia.orgwikiGlobal_incidence_of_teenage_pregnancy#Teenage_birth_and_abortion_rates_by_country

Monday, 5 April 2010

More Stats on Children

Research has shown that children under the age of 8 are unable to defend themselves against advertising and take advertisers claims as face value, which can usually be misleading. Although it would be impractical to ban advertising to children completely, come countries have tried to restrict the amount of advertising children see with time bans, for example, Greece does not allow any kind of advertising to children until after 10 p.m. and Norway and Sweden have banned all advertising to children under 12 entirely. Is it possible that this may have decreased the teenage pregnancy rates in these countries?


Thursday, 1 April 2010

Statistics on Children

With the average young adult viewing over 3000 adverts per day on TV, the internet, magazines and billboards, is it any wonder that our society and children are becoming oversexed at such a young age. Brands try to establish brand name preferences at such a young age to increase constant spending from this age group. Children are attractive consumers as they bring in around $25 billion per year, teens spend about $155 billion per year and both of these groups influence around another $200 billion per year of their parents spending.