The CAP Code and Royalty: Make your ads reign supreme

On 20 November 2017, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, with the Royal Mint creating a commemorative platinum coin to mark the occasion. In other royal news, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge recently announced that they are expecting their third child, due in 2018.

While marketers may be tempted to link their ad campaigns to these occasions, they should be mindful of the rules.  Read on for the key ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ when referring to the Royal Family in ads.

Unless you hold prior permission, only feature the Royal Family in limited circumstances

Rule 6.2 states that members of the Royal Family shouldn’t normally be shown or mentioned in a marketing communication without their prior permission.  An incidental reference (unconnected with the advertised product), however, 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 royal events or expressions of good wishes seem likely to be acceptable, but ads must not claim or imply that a product is endorsed by the Royal Family or affiliated with royal events, unless this is the case.

Hold permission before featuring the Royal Arms/Emblems or referring to a Royal Warrant

Featuring the Royal Arms or Emblems or referring to a Royal Warrant is likely to imply official endorsement.  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.

Take care when advertising souvenir products

As with all ads, marketers of souvenirs must ensure their ads don’t mislead about the product.  The ASA banned an ad for a ‘Prince William Royal Bridegroom Porcelain Doll’ 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 not to imply that it’s official memorabilia if it’s not.

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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