Linking campaigns to royal events is always tempting, and although general references to the royal birth or simple congratulatory messages are potentially acceptable, ads shouldn’t go as far as claiming or implying that a particular product is endorsed by the Royal Family or that a product is affiliated to royal events when it is not.
Members of the Royal Family shouldn’t normally be shown or mentioned in a marketing communication without their prior permission (rule 6.2) and the Royal Arms or Emblems must not be used without prior permission from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office. References to a Royal Warrant should be checked with the Royal Warrant Holders’ Association (rule 3.52).
The Lord Chamberlain’s office has issued guidelines regarding the sale of souvenir products. Advertisements for souvenir products are not, in and of themselves, likely to be considered to imply a Royal endorsement, although care should be taken in the copy to ensure that the ad doesn’t imply that a souvenir product is official memorabilia. In light of rule 6.2, we would advise against using images which have been provided for souvenirs or other specific uses in marketing communications for unrelated products.
As always, advertisers must ensure that advertising for such products is not misleading. In October 2012 the ASA upheld a complaint against an ad for a Prince William Royal Bridegroom Porcelain Doll because the image in the ad was found not to be an accurate representation of the product and therefore breached the Code. There is no minimum number of complaints required to spark an investigation, however it’s worth noting that the popularity of such products can result in a higher level of complaints if something goes wrong as this August 2012 adjudication regarding a Royal Jubilee DVD offer shows.
The ASA has in the past upheld complaints about advertising that implied Royal endorsement. However, the Code states that an incidental reference unconnected with the advertised product, or references to material such as a book, article or film about a member of the Royal Family, may be acceptable.