From customers’ views on your vegan shampoo, to Vlogger sensations plugging your latest creation, testimonials and endorsements are a popular, effective – and perfectly legitimate - method of promoting your product or service. However, marketers should take care to make sure that such claims, whether made by celebrities or members of the public, are accurate, capable of substantiation and unlikely to mislead. Here are seven key tips to ensure the quotes from your clients are CAP Code compliant.
- DEMONSTRATE THEY’RE GENUINE
No-one likes a faker, so please ensure you hold evidence that any testimonials and endorsements you use are real (unless they’re obviously fictitious), and that they accurately reflect what the person said. We’d also advise retaining the contact details of the person featured for as long as the ad is used.
- OBTAIN PERMISSION
Most people are unlikely to enjoy finding their face unexpectedly plastered across an ad campaign, so ensure you have their consent before using their testimonials. (Certain exceptions apply to using quotes from published sources- check CAP Code rule 3.48 for more info).
- MAKE SURE THEY’RE RELEVANT
An obvious point, but avoid using testimonials or endorsements in misleading ways. For instance, “Before and After” photographs used to promote weight loss products (if not otherwise prohibited) should accurately portray the actual weight lost over the stated period.
- DON’T BE SAD, USE #AD
Advertisers shouldn’t pretend to be consumers, and neither should third parties paid to promote their products. If you want to ensure your use of social influencers is #totes #compliant, check out our comprehensive guide here.
- AVOID INCENTIVISING POSITIVE ENDORSEMENTS
Nobody likes criticism, but consumers have the right to see both sides of the story when it comes to public feedback. Encouraging customers to post positive reviews may breach our code, as may amending or deleting negative reviews (although removing genuinely offensive comments, personal information or potentially illegal content is likely to be fine).
- BE AWARE OF RESTRICTED CATEGORIES
Take particular care around particular sensitive ad categories - for example, neither health professionals nor celebrities should be used to endorse medicines.
- ENSURE THEY COMPLY MORE GENERALLY
"Yeah, but the customer said it" is not an excuse to circumvent the CAP Code - testimonials must not make claims that would otherwise break our rules.
- Claims, endorsements and testimonials
- Online, catch-up TV and radio, in-app and in-game
- Mailings, email, phone/fax and messaging
- Poster and other out of home
- Newspapers, magazines and printed materials