Free trials and tribulations – Avoiding the subscription trap

We’ve published new guidance about the advertising of “free trials” (or other promotional offer) subscription models.

These offers can be a good way to introduce and showcase your product but, if a consumer must enrol into an ongoing payment arrangement to take advantage of the offer, this should be clear and upfront in the ad.

Ads for “free trial” or promotional subscription offers must make the following significant conditions clear:

  • Whether a paid subscription starts automatically (after the trial) unless cancelled and;
  • The extent of the financial commitment if the subscription is not cancelled (during the trial)  and;
  • Any other significant conditions: for example, significant costs to participate.

If significant conditions are not displayed with sufficient prominence, the ad is likely to break the rules. To clarify, this means stating “T&Cs apply” is not sufficient; the significant conditions must be stated in the ad.

In regard to placement of the significant conditions, the guidance offers suggested do’s…


and don’ts…

… and explains how these principles can be applied to ads in other media, to ensure your promotions comply with the Codes.

For more details, please see our guidance or the overview in our AdviceOnline entry.

If you would like advice about a specific ad for a subscription offer, CAP has a range of services to help you keep to the rules, including free bespoke Copy Advice, so please take a look on our website.

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