Like all ads, those seen in these types of media should not mislead, harm or offend. There are, however, some other more specific types of problems we see with ads in newspapers and magazines.
Front-page flashes are often used by advertisers to announce various types of promotions such as free product offers or discounts on holidays. The brevity of the flash can cause issues under our rules, with the most common problems being: not making clear that it is a token-collect scheme and multiple purchases of the publication are required; not making clear whether the promotional item is included in the publication or you have to send off for it; confusion about costs such as postage; and packaging when the product is advertised as “free” and not being transparent about restrictions or limitations such as limited availability.
We also commonly see complaints which query the evidence behind circulation and distribution claims made by newspapers and magazines. We normally consider these figures should be audited by an independent robust and industry recognised auditor, such as the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) and the advertiser should be able to provide evidence to support the figures on request.
We are unlikely to deem readership figures as accurate if they are based on: estimations; surveys; an assumption that members would pass on a publication to other people and that those people would then read the publications; or those extrapolated from circulation figures. Advertisers should also be careful not to describe their figures as circulation figures if they are in fact distribution figures.
Furthermore newspapers and magazines should be careful not to disguise advertorial content as editorial. Often we see newspapers publishing clearly distinguishable ads for a product at the bottom of a page and above the ad is text which looks exactly like a normal news article but is in fact information about the product including claims about its effectiveness. We see this as an intentional attempt to get around the advertising rules and advertorial content presented like this needs to be labelled clearly and in such a way the reader can see immediately that the whole page is an ad.