We recently overhauled our guidance on the remit of the CAP Code to help give marketers a better steer on the types of material that the Code applies to. It would be next to impossible to detail all of the types of marketing that the Code covers so our remit guidance is indicative, rather than exhaustive, but hopefully gives a fuller picture of the types of material that the ASA can regulate.
Interestingly, the CAP Code doesn’t define advertising – instead it lists categories of communication and offers supplementary definitions and exclusions in the ‘Scope of the Code’. Here’s a brief outline of the remit of the Code, with some links to further guidance.
Publications and printed material
It also applies to other printed material such as leaflets (unless they promote a ‘cause or idea’), carrier bags, business cards, brochures and catalogues.
The Code applies to direct mailings, emails, faxes and SMS/MMS messages. It also applies to circulars, ads sent using Bluetooth and some forms of recorded message.
The Code applies to posters on billboards and poster sites, but not those which appear at ‘point of sale’ (unless they include a promotion or appear in space usually sold to third-party advertisers) or those that have been ‘fly posted’ (which is illegal).
It also applies to third party ads in ‘paid-for’ space in ambient media including, but not limited to, taxis and buses, petrol pumps, bus tickets, ATMs, projections onto buildings, supermarket trolleys, the reverse side of till receipts and beer mats.
The Code applies to ‘paid for’ ads on Video on Demand (VOD) platforms and those on music streaming services. It also applies to ‘paid for’ online ads like banners, pop-ups, pre-rolls, ‘pay per click’ ads on search engines (but not the ‘natural listings’) and ‘promoted’ social media posts. It only applies to the ‘preferential’ listings on independent price comparison websites.
It covers ‘advertorial’ content on news websites, in vlogs/blogs and in social media as well as business classified ads and ads on third party retail platforms.
It also applies to claims on a marketer’s own website and in other non-paid for space online under their control (e.g. social media, apps, ‘advergames’) if they are directly connected with the supply of goods or services, opportunities, prizes or gifts (limited exemption for ‘cause and idea’ marketing). Viral advertising is also covered by the Code.
Cinema, TV and Radio
The Code applies to cinema ads (usually pre-cleared by the Cinema Advertising Association), but not to film trailers shown in the cinema.
It also applies to promotional marketing in non-broadcast media, including media that might not otherwise be covered by the Code.
It does not apply to official notices or information from a public authority, ‘sponsorship’, health-related claims addressed only to medical practitioners, customer charters/codes of practice or the technical aspects of financial/credit marketing which are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
It also does not apply to marketing communications in foreign media, but there are some circumstances in which the ASA will take what action it can where the material targets UK consumers.
‘Political advertising’ where the principal function is to influence voters in a local, regional, national or international election or referendum is also exempt from the Code.
There are often shades of grey involved in remit decisions and the considerations are not always straightforward. If you’re in any doubt, the Copy Advice team can help give you a steer on whether a non-broadcast medium you’re considering is covered by the Code (for broadcast, speak to Clearcast (TV), Radiocentre (radio) or Ofcom).