From 1 March 2011, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) began to regulate advertisers’ own marketing communications on their own websites and in other non-paid-for space online under their control.

The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code) applies to:

“Advertisements and other marketing communications by or from companies, organisations or sole traders on their own websites, or in other non-paid-for space online under their control, that are directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods, services, opportunities and gifts, or which consist of direct solicitations of donations as part of their own fundraising activities.”

This phrase brings within the online remit material which can properly be accepted as constituting an advertisement or other marketing communication, and distinguishes this material from other types of communication e.g. editorial content. A marketing communication is a type of communication for a good, service, opportunity or gift that primarily sets out to sell something. Of course, marketing communications may set out to sell in a myriad of different ways and may not necessarily include a price or seek an immediate financial transaction.

The ASA Council will take into account the entire context in which claims are made in determining whether the primary purpose of the communication is to sell something and therefore whether it falls within the remit of the CAP Code. Statements of belief, broadly falling within the scope of ‘causes’ or ‘ideas’ communications, do not fall within the non-paid-for online remit of the Code, unless they directly solicit donations. Whilst, if a brand takes user generated content and incorporates it into a marketing communication, or actively promotes it, it will very likely be considered directly connected with the supply of goods or services and therefore within the remit of the Code.

Our latest update that can be downloaded below, provides a comprehensive explanation of the tests the ASA Council apply when determining whether a communication falls within the remit of the Code, and also contains illustrative ASA remit decisions demonstrating how these tests are applied in practice:

ORE Update Dec 2014.pdf


More on

  • Keep up to date

    Sign up to our rulings, newsletters and emargoed access for Press. Subscribe now.