In a year that saw a royal baby birth, partial solar eclipse and Great Britain win the Davis Cup for the first time since 1936, some key rulings and developments in advertising regulation might have passed you by, but it’s been a busy year for both CAP and the ASA.


2015 saw video blogs, or “vlogs”, rise in popularity, providing marketers with a new way to reach potential consumers, by using “vloggers” to promote products to their followers.  While advertising in this way is permitted by the Code, it’s important that marketers ensure such material is obviously identifiable as a marketing communication (rule 2.1).  In light of this increasingly popular marketing platform, we published new guidance for marketers, which includes a non-exhaustive list of vlogging scenarios and the relevant requirements of the Code.

Under 25s and gambling

While the ASA has published several rulings on the depiction of under 25s in gambling ads over the years, 2015 rulings against Twitter posts by Petfre (Gibraltar) LtdCoral Interactive (Gibraltar) Ltd and Hillside (UK Sports) LP, demonstrate the importance of ensuring rule 16.3.14 is not breached, regardless of the medium used.

Key social responsibility rulings

Two rulings against fashion brands highlighted the importance of considering the overall impression an ad gives and the need to be socially responsible.  The ASA ruled against an ad which depicted a model in a manner that made her appear unhealthily underweight and also ruled against an ad which presented a child in a sexualised way.

What else has CAP been doing?

Obesity and advertising

In November, CAP announced a significant change in position on the advertising of weight loss management programmes and references to obesity.  While previously, references to obesity were prohibited in marketing communications, unless made in relation to services supervised by a suitably qualified healthcare professional, a new rule permits services meeting specific criteria to refer to obesity and therefore target the obese.


While published ASA rulings are a big part of our regulatory work, we don’t just sit back and wait for complaints to come in before acting.  This year, CAP proactively launched a consultation into whether to introduce scheduling restrictions on the TV advertising of “payday loans”; look out for the outcome in 2016.  We also announced that a public consultation on the introduction of new rules governing the advertising of food and soft drinks high in fat, salt or sugar to children, in non-broadcast media, will be launched in 2016.

Our Legal Backstop

Trading Standards became the ASA's legal backstop for misleading advertising at the end of 2013, meaning it could refer non-broadcast advertisers who continue to breach the rules on misleading advertising to Trading Standards, who can consider legal sanctions to bring them into line.  In 2015, the legal backstop power really bared its teeth; with fifteen advertisers referred this year, and some significant actions brought to bear, including taking down the websites of a significant number of those few advertisers who had proved unwilling or unable to work with us.  See details of the ASA’s referrals to Trading Standards.

And so we bid farewell to 2015. We wish all our Insight readers a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

To keep up to date follow @CAP_UK on Twitter.

Jo Davis Copy Advice team  By Jo Davis, Copy Advice Executive

Jo specialises in giving advice relating to electronic cigarettes, beauty, weight control and travel marketing.  

Meet the rest of the Copy Advice team here.

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