Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

Marketers running promotions that benefit registered charities or good causes are required to provide specific information to consumers (Rule 8.33). That information includes, but is not limited to, the name of each beneficiary, its nature and objectives (unless obvious), how the beneficiary will gain and to what extent and whether the promoter’s contribution is limited.

The ASA receives very few complaints about charity-linked promotions but in 2009 upheld a complaint about a promoter’s failure to state the basis on which its contribution would be calculated. Because it was likely to influence a consumer’s buying decision, the ASA ruled that explaining the level of charitable contributions on a website was inadequate.

Interestingly, though, the ASA considered that the promoter had not breached the Code by limiting its contributions, exaggerating the benefit or not providing enough information about the recipients. The promoter stated merely an umbrella organisation, not specific charities, on its packaging and argued that its contribution changed as each project reached its fundraising target. Because more information was on the promoter’s website, the ASA considered the absence of that information from the ad was acceptable (Food Brands Group Ltd, 7 January 2009).

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