Royally impressive – some princely advice on advertising around Royal occasions

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is fast approaching and the birth of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s third child is on the horizon.  We understand marketers may wish to link their ad campaigns to these occasions.  While general references to a royal event or simple congratulatory message may be permitted, marketers must not claim or imply that a product is endorsed by the Royal Family or affiliated to royal events if it is not.

Whether a royal wedding, birth or ad campaign, early planning can be key, so to help marketers ensure their Royal wedding-related ads get their happily ever after, here are our answers to some frequently asked questions.

Do I need permission to feature the Royal Family in my ad?

While it may be tempting to feature Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in an ad for your wedding or honeymoon services, under rule 6.2 members of the Royal Family should not normally be shown or mentioned in a marketing communication without their prior permission.  As such, marketers are urged to seek permission in most instances, though 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.

Very general references to the Royal wedding, or other royal events, or expressions of good wishes may also acceptable, but marketers are advised to ensure they do not claim or imply that a product or service is either endorsed by the Royal Family or affiliated with royal events, unless this is the case.

Can I feature the Royal Arms/Emblems or refer to a Royal Warrant?

Featuring the Royal Arms or Emblems or referring to a Royal Warrant is likely to imply official endorsement and as such, marketers are strongly advised against doing so, unless they hold relevant permission.  Rule 3.52 states that any use of the former is prohibited without prior permission from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office and any reference to the latter should be checked with the Royal Warrant Holders’ Association.

What about advertising souvenir products?

As with all ads, those promoting souvenirs products must not mislead consumers about the product.  While marketers are entitled to promote their product in its best light, if consumers are likely to be misled, the ad is likely to break the rules.

The ASA banned an ad for a ‘Prince William Royal Bridegroom Porcelain Doll’ previously on the grounds that the image in the ad was not an accurate representation of the product being sold. Marketers should also ensure that ads include all material information so that consumers are able to make an informed decision about whether to make a purchase, as the ASA’s ruling on a Royal Jubilee DVD demonstrates.

While ads for souvenir products are not, in and of themselves, likely to be considered to imply royal endorsement, care should be taken to ensure the ad doesn’t imply a product is official memorabilia if it is not.

Marketers are advised to ensure their ads for souvenir products are also in line with the Lord Chamberlain's Office's guidance on the commercial use of Royal photographs and Insignia in relation to souvenir products commemorating the engagement or marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

If you would like to check whether your ad is likely to comply with the CAP Code, the Copy Advice team is here to help.

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