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.
In ‘paid for space’, for example press, posters and online banner ads, the CAP Code covers marketing which concerns causes or ideas and not just ads for goods, services, opportunities or gifts.
However, in ‘non-paid for space’ both online and offline, such as leaflets, mailings and a marketer’s own website and social media channels, the Code excludes marketing which concerns causes or ideas unless it also includes a direct solicitation of donations.
The concept of causes and ideas marketing is a wide one and the types of communication that could potentially be considered as falling within the exclusion includes, but is not limited to;
- environment-related campaigning such as anti-wind farm/fracking leaflets;
- government health and safety campaigns including websites promoting giving up smoking or preventing drink-driving;
- marketing by charities and pressure groups which encourages people to espouse certain charitable or political causes;
- online material related to proposed developments such as new roads or buildings;
- information from trade associations which promotes, for example, an alternative therapy as an overall concept rather than the services of any practitioners and;
- marketing by religious groups or political parties which shares information about beliefs or raises awareness of political issues (See also “Political Advertising”).
Such communications would be brought back within the remit of the Code if they also included a direct solicitation of donations. For example, the majority of the content of a charity’s own website is likely to be excluded but the claims which appear on a "donate" page, in an online ‘shop’, or content which explicitly asks consumers to donate is likely to be covered by the Code.
However, a “donate” button or tab for a “donate” page which is part of the website’s architecture and therefore visible on every page would not necessarily bring an entire website within the remit of the Code. It would very much depend on the positioning and whether the content in question was directly connected to the solicitation of donations, for example by including an explicit request to donate.
It would also fall within the scope of the Code if it was also directly connected to the supply or transfer of any goods, services, opportunities or gifts (see 'Remit: Own websites'). A website which sought to raise awareness of animal welfare issues but also encouraged people to purchase a product, the proceeds of which would be donated to the cause, was considered to be within the ASA’s remit (Lush Retail Ltd, 9 May 2012).
For more information, please see CAP's Regulatory Statement.
Updated 28 September 2016