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)

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