Christmas is coming (ok, it’s 3 months away); the goose is getting up to its healthy target weight and it’s time to start thinking about your festive campaigns. But, you need to be careful not to create a complete turkey and you certainly don’t want to fall fowl (sorry) of the advertising rules.

So what sort of issues has the ASA previously investigated in relation to Christmas ads? Whilst matters of offence are often No. 1 in the ASA Christmas complaints charts, issues of social responsibility are often not far behind. For example, a cosmetic surgery clinic ad was found to be irresponsible because it trivialized cosmetic interventions by inviting consumers to visit a clinic in Poland for a consultation as part of a Christmas themed trip.

Whilst Christmas references are not automatically a problem in ads for products and services not directly associated with the festive period, it pays to be careful how and when they are used. A great example is an ad for a short-term loan which featured cartoon images of Rudolph and Santa alongside text such as “Rudolph's Readies Brighten up Christmas" and “Bring a little cheer this Christmas”. In that case, the ASA ruled that the ad was irresponsible because it promoted a casual attitude to using a loan to fund Christmas spending.

When certain products are commonly linked to Christmas, there are still risks but these can be avoided through careful presentation. The ASA rejected a complaint which challenged whether the text “Without Warninks ADVOKAAT it just wouldn’t be Christmas” suggested that alcohol was a key component of the success of a social event. In that instance it was ruled that consumers would understand from the ad that Christmas was simply a season to which the drink was traditionally linked.

The ASA will take into account the tone of an ad and the context in which it appears; and whilst some associations to the festive season may be traditional or incidental, care should be taken not to present that link in an irresponsible way.

See our Advice Online database for further information on Social responsibility , short term and pay day loans, alcohol: social events.

If in doubt, drop CAP Copy Advice a line so they can help you keep your ads responsible.

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