With just weeks or possibly days to go, excitement is mounting for the imminent arrival of a new member of the Royal Family. While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have hinted at breaking from royal baby traditions, marketers looking to give their advertising the royal treatment must ensure they don’t abdicate their responsibility to abide by the CAP Code. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide so you can deliver your royal baby-related ads without being sent to the tower.
Featuring the Royal Family
Rule 6.2 states that “members of the Royal Family should not normally be shown or mentioned in a marketing communication without their prior permission”. So while it might be tempting to link your campaigns to royal events, advertisers should take care to avoid claiming or implying that a particular product is endorsed by or affiliated with the royal family if this is not the case (indeed, specific permission should be sought in most instances).
A very general reference to a royal event or a simple congratulatory message may be acceptable, so long as it is incidental to an advertised product and doesn’t imply an official endorsement.
Featuring the Royal Arms/Emblems or referring to a Royal Warrant
Rule 3.52 states that “Marketing communications must not use the Royal Arms or Emblems without prior permission from the Lord Chamberlain's office. References to a Royal Warrant should be checked with the Royal Warrant Holders' Association”. As such, featuring the Royal Arms or Emblems or referring to a Royal Warrant is likely to imply official endorsement, so marketers should not do so unless they hold relevant permission.
The Lord Chamberlain’s office has issued guidelines regarding the sale of souvenir products. In and of themselves, advertisements for souvenir products are not likely to be considered to imply a Royal endorsement, although care should be taken in the copy to ensure that the ad doesn’t imply that a souvenir product is official memorabilia. In light of rule 6.2, we would advise against using images which have been provided for souvenirs or other specific uses in marketing communications for unrelated products.
More generally, advertisers must ensure that their advertising is not misleading. While marketers are entitled to promote products in their best light, if consumers are likely to be misled, ads are likely to break the rules.
In October 2012 the ASA upheld a complaint against an ad for a Prince William “Royal Bridegroom Porcelain Doll” because the image in the ad wasn’t an accurate representation of the product, and therefore breached the Code.
As ever, 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.