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.
Some types of claims are commonly used in advertising. When assessing claims, the ASA will consider the claim in the context of the ad in which it appears. Many types of claims can have different meanings, and the same claim may be interpreted in different ways, depending on the context it appears in. The ASA will consider an ad from the consumer’s perspective, and marketers should take care to consider how consumers are likely to interpret any claim, to ensure that they do not unintentionally mislead.
Marketers should ensure that they hold evidence to support all claims that are likely to be interpreted as objective (rule 3.7) and must ensure that objective comparisons do not mislead (rules 3.33 – 3.36). In the absence of sufficient evidence, the ASA is likely to consider objective claims misleading. The type of evidence likely to be required by the ASA will depend on the level of claim concerned and the context in which it appears.
Some claims will be interpreted as subjective matters of opinion. Under rule 3.2, obvious exaggerations (“puffery”) and claims that the average consumer is unlikely to take literally are permitted by the Code, provided they aren’t likely to mislead materially. Marketers should tread carefully here and be mindful of the fact that if the ASA considers a claim to be objective and capable of substantiation, they are likely to rule the claim misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation, even if the marketer’s intention was to make a subjective claim.
Some claims will be interpreted as comparisons with the advertiser’s competitors, whether specific competitors or competitor products, the whole market, or a comparison with unidentifiable competitors. Specific rules apply to comparative claims.
The list below includes further guidance to help marketers distinguish between objective and subective claims, whether a claim is comparative, and the type of evidence which may be required. Because context is so important to the interpretation of any claim, the entries in this section should be considered as a guide rather than a definitive answer on how claims will be interpreted and the level of evidence, if any, needed to support them.
Is the claim objective, subjective, or puffery?
Other common claims
For sector specific advice see the sections of the Code and sector specific AdviceOnline articles, here.