Ad description

A banner ad for Churchill Road Safety Hub, seen in February 2022, on The ad showed a photographic image of a bulldog superimposed onto a blue and pink background featuring a hand-drawn, blue outline scene of a road, shops and car. The text “Churchill” featured in the top left-hand corner. A blue ad label with text “ADVERTISEMENT” in white was at the bottom right of the ad. Below the imagery there was a purple banner with text “CHURCHILL” and “Learn and Play with Churchill’s Road Safety Hub” in white font.

The content was positioned alongside two other ads and below several tiles linking through to games, all of which were formatted identically to the ad, in the same size, with a purple banner and white text below any imagery.


The ASA challenged whether the ad was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication to its audience.


U K Insurance Ltd t/a Churchill said that they partnered with Nickelodeon and PAW Patrol in October 2021 in a paid-for sponsorship campaign comprised of educational content to help children learn about road safety and save lives. The ad signposted to the Churchill Road Safety Hub for which there was no commercial intent and no attempt to persuade children (or adults) into a commercial or non-commercial arrangement. They said the hub contained activities such as games, a competition and a road safety video. Children’s recognition of the Churchill brand was not pertinent to the purpose of the Road Safety Hub content. They also said they did not believe there would have been any risk of harm or adverse outcomes if children had not realised that the Churchill banner ad was different to the other first-party content on the webpage.

They said Nickelodeon had included the word advertisement prominently in white capital letters in a blue box which stood out against the pale pink background. This appeared at the bottom left of the Churchill banner to indicate there was a paid-for relationship between Churchill and Nickelodeon. They said they understood Nickelodeon had included that in line with CAP/ASA guidance.

They said the Churchill banner appeared at the bottom of the page, and was clearly distinct from the tiles above that signpost to the different children’s programmes. They said the ad had prominent recognisable Churchill branding including both the Churchill logo in the top left-hand corner and the Churchill brand asset dog in the centre of the banner. They also said that background images in the banner were noticeably less prominent to the Churchill branding and word “advertisement”.

Paramount, on behalf of, said they had been notified about the complaint as it related to one of their brands and a URL which they owned and controlled. They said they considered the content to be obviously identifiable as a marketing communication to its audience.

They said the tile on the homepage prominently featured the word “ADVERTISEMENT" in the bottom right-hand corner. The word was of a significant size, in capital letters, located in an uncluttered area on the tile and it was in a dark coloured box that contrasted with the light background. The banner along the bottom of the tile identified the marketer and made clear that the tile related to a road safety educational campaign. They accepted that the ad tile appeared on the homepage with similar tiles that featured editorial content and said that was possibly due to technical constraints. However, they said that all marketing communications were grouped together at the bottom of the Nickjr homepage and were labelled clearly.

They referenced the landing webpage which hosted the partnership content. They said that this also carried a relevant disclosure which made clear that the content related to a commercial partnership through the use of the word advertisement, which was displayed in a prominent location (top and centre) and in capital letters.

They said that it was not clear that enhanced disclosure would apply to the ad, because all content relating to the commercial partnership was hosted by Nickelodeon on a dedicated and separate microsite. The editorial content created for the commercial partnership was overseen and controlled by Nickelodeon, not Churchill, and was in the form of educational music videos promoting road safety. Therefore they considered that enhanced disclosure stating “Content created by x” would not have been strictly accurate. They also said that the editorial content on the microsite was free from calls to action, pricing information or links to third-party products.

They said whilst certain Nickelodeon channels were aimed at young children (including pre-school age children) the Nickjr website was much more likely to give rise to child and parent co-viewing because the content on the site was skewed towards pre-schoolers. They said that if older children visited the website they would likely understand the word advertisement. They said that for younger children, who were expected to access the Nickjr website with a parent in a supervisory capacity, the labelling would have been clear to the adult, who could exert control when deciding whether or not to access the relevant content with their child.

They said they recognised that assessing what young children may or may not understand was not straightforward. However, they believed the content fell within the expectations of the CAP code and that their approach was in-line with that of their competitors.



The CAP Code stated that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such, and must make clear their commercial intent, if that was not clear from the context. CAP guidance noted that younger children posed a particular challenge to marketers. Cognitive development was in its early stages, meaning they sometimes could not recognise more integrated online marketing communications.

The guidance identified situations where ads directed at under-12s were likely to require ‘enhanced’ recognition disclosure; namely, where it was: directed at under 12s: highly immersive: or significantly integrated into the surrounding editorial content and unlikely to be identified clearly from the context in which it appeared. Display advertising that looked as though it was part of the surrounding content, or which might be confused with editorial of first-party content, would likely require further disclosure. Such disclosure should be prominent, interruptive, and sufficient to identify the marketer and the commercial intent of the ad.

The ASA considered the target audience for was likely to be pre-school age children, and we acknowledged that the audience viewing the ad would be a mixture of children and adults acting in a supervisory role. We acknowledged that supervising adults would be able to understand the term advertisement. However, we considered that there would be a significant audience of young children under 12 viewing alone.

We acknowledged the purpose of the ad was to highlight a road safety campaign, and that the ad was not intended to persuade children to buy insurance products. However, we considered it was likely to have the effect of promoting the brand, and was, in any case, a marketing communication as defined by the Code and therefore was required to be identifiable as such to its audience.

We noted that the page was split into different tiles with ads grouped together. The ad tile was formatted identically to the surrounding editorial content in the same size and shape as the editorial content along with an identical purple banner. We considered that the ad was significantly, visually integrated into the surrounding content and the formatting of the tile contributed to it being less identifiably separate from the surrounding editorial content.

Given the high level of integration due to the formatting, we considered that it would be highly unlikely that very young children would be able to identify the content as an ad from the context in which it appeared.We acknowledged that an ad disclosure label “ADVERTISEMENT” had been used within the tile. Whilst the label text was in capitals, we considered that the size of the font and the box itself was not particularly prominent. Also, the use of a colour palette for the label that matched and blended with the overall ad colours did not make the disclosure sufficiently prominent or interruptive enough for younger children to realise, at the point at which they were engaging with the content, that it was distinct from the non-advertising content around it.

We also acknowledged that the name of the marketer and the brand dog were identified within the ad. However, we considered that, because the marketer name was presented in a colour palette and style which matched the ad this contributed to its integration. It therefore was not prominent or interruptive enough for young children to be able to easily identify that this was the marketer or the commercial intent behind the ad. We also considered that it was unlikely that young children would equate the dog to the marketer.

We considered the ad did not adequately fulfil the criteria required to satisfy the requirements of enhanced disclosure for children to be able to distinguish the ad against other website content. We further considered that the ad was unlikely to be obviously identifiable as such by its audience and therefore concluded that it breached the Code.

The ad breached CAP code (Edition 12) rules  2.1 2.1 Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such.  and  2.3 2.3 Marketing communications must not falsely claim or imply that the marketer is acting as a consumer or for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession; marketing communications must make clear their commercial intent, if that is not obvious from the context.  (recognition of marketing communications).


The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told U K Insurance Ltd t/a Churchill to ensure that ads were obviously identifiable to their audience, and used ‘enhanced’ disclosure where required.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

2.1     2.3    

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