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Consumer Law Update – June 2018

Home Insights Consumer Law Update – June 2018

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Published on: June 26, 2018


A new Advertising Standards Code: When 6 become 1

Last night saw the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launch the new Advertising Standards Code (Code). The Code comes into force for new advertisements on 1 November 2018 and it will apply to all advertisements from 1 February 2019.

Since 2015, the ASA has been consolidating a number of its advertising codes. The new Code consolidates six of the existing codes and it will become the cornerstone of all advertising. As the ASA made clear at the launch, the Code is intended to apply to "all ads, all media".

So what has changed? Well, from 1 November this year, the Advertising Code of Ethics, Code for Comparative Advertising, Code for Environment Claims, Code for Advertising Food, Code for Advertising Vehicles and Code for People in Advertising will be consolidated into the new Code. This will make it easier to identify what rules will apply, as there had been instances of confusion when a number of codes applied to different advertisements.

Under the new Code, which will be available on the ASA's website from 2 July 2018, there will be two key principles, which will be familiar to those who use the current codes. In summary:

  • Principle 1 covers Social Responsibility and provides "Advertisements must be prepared and placed with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and society". 
  • There are nine Rules under Principle 1 that cover privacy (which we believe is important and reflects concerns of many consumers), consent, decency and offensiveness, exploitation of children and young people, safety, violence and anti-social behaviour, fear and distress, health and well-being and protecting the environment.
  • Principle 2 covers Truthful Presentation and provides "Advertisements must be truthful, balanced and not misleading". 
  • There are eight Rules under Principle 2 that cover identification as an advertisement, truthful presentation, use of data, comparative advertising, advocacy advertising, use of testimonials/endorsements, food and beverage claims and environmental claims.
  • Helpfully, there are a number of guidelines for each Rule.

It is worth noting that some of the specialist codes will remain, including the Code for Advertising and the Promotion of Alcohol, the Code for Advertising Gaming and Gambling, the Code for Financial Advertising and the Therapeutic and Health Advertising Code and the Children and Young People's Advertising Code.

The ASA, and its Code Committee, should be commended for consulting with the industry and simplifying which codes and rules apply. This will assist marketers, lawyers and complainants. The ASA will also be offering a new "AdHelp Information Service".

We will be running a number of training sessions in conjunction with the ASA, so please keep an eye out for details of these sessions later in the year.

This article is intended only to provide a summary of the subject covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No person should act in reliance on any statement contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice. If you require any advice or further information on the subject matter of this newsletter, please contact the partner/solicitor in the firm who normally advises you, or alternatively contact one of the partners listed below.

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