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.


Section 2 of the CAP Code deals with the recognition of marketing communications and these rules apply regardless of the targeting or medium. This article provides a brief overview of the key points. Please see the specific AdviceOnline articles for relevant rulings and more detailed guidance.

Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such

This means they need to be designed and presented in a way that makes it clear they are advertising material. The medium or targeting will also be relevant when deciding what is necessary to ensure that consumers know they are viewing a marcom.

Consumers should be able to tell from the envelope itself that a direct mailing is a marketing communication. For more information see 'Claims on Envelopes'.

Advertorial content is controlled by the marketer, not the publisher, and is written in exchange for a payment or other reciprocal arrangement. It is often presented in a style similar to that of the surrounding editorial. This approach, long used in traditional press, is now commonplace online and is acceptable provided that the nature of the copy is made clear, either through the wider context or by virtue of being signposted with “advertisement feature” or similar (rule 2.4). For more information see 'Advertisement features'.

Take care when using new technologies

When seeking to market via new technologies it’s important to remember that the principles of recognising marcoms still apply. See our guidance regarding 'Video blogs' and 'Contextually targeted branded content' (often referred to as “native” advertising).

Online Behavioural Advertising has an extra layer of regulation in that, as well as being obviously identifiable as an ad, it’s also necessary to show the mechanism it’s been served by. Please see the Advertising Guidance note on 'Online Behavioural Advertising' for detailed guidance.

Consider all aspects of the Code

Marketers should be aware that in some cases, failing to show the communication is a marcom may also be considered to be materially misleading or to cause fear or distress without justifiable reason.

Updated 26 September 2016


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