You can download the new CAP as a PDF here. It is clear and easy to read, and contains important information on marketing, including:
- When ‘puffery’ (obvious exaggeration) is acceptable
- Where you stand on price information, including when you can or can’t describe a product as ‘free’
- Guidelines on making comparisons between your company or product (or price!) and a competitor’s. A Blackpool taxi company got into trouble recently for distributing leaflets that unfairly claimed its competitor was slow and did not value price, quality or service!
- The need to back up your testimonials or endorsements. Hint: “you must hold documentary evidence that a testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine, unless it is obviously fictitious, and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it”
- Guidance on minimising the risk of your communications causing harm or serious widespread offence
- Making sure that advertising aimed at under-16s is safe, suitable and ethical. This section of the Code has undergone perhaps the greatest number of changes, aiming for enhanced protection for children
- Protecting people’s privacy (including, interestingly, members of the Royal Family)
- The rules on special offers, competitions and promotions
- Guidelines on direct marketing, to complement the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000
- The need for compliance with data protection legislation.(Are you keeping your contacts’ details safe and giving them the chance to opt out of your communications?)
- When you can and can’t make claims about a product being green or environmentally friendly
- Details about promoting medicines, medical devices, treatments, health-related products and beauty products. A water purifier ad was banned this month for making unsubstantiated claims that the product was “alkalizing, aided respiration and produced youthful looking skin”
- Guidelines and rules on marketing communications for weight control and slimming aids; financial products (please note that these can go down as well as up); food; gambling products and lotteries; alcoholic drinks; and motoring-related products.
You may also be interested in reading the Broadcast Code of Advertising Practice (BCAP), which governs TV and radio advertising.
If ever you’re unsure as to whether your marketing communications might fall foul of the Code, give CAP’s Copy Advice team a ring on 020 7492 2100. I’ve spoken to them twice recently on behalf of clients: once to check that a cleaning firm was OK to say its environmentally friendly products were ‘healthier’ than others (we had to tread carefully with this) and once to find out where we stood on making links between hypnotherapy and smoking cessation (again, we didn’t want to mislead with false or overstated claims).
Both times I found the Copy Advice team to be helpful and knowledgeable.
I’ll also be attending training on the new Code in the near future, to make sure I can always give you the best and most up-to-date advice. So if you need sparkling, lively, Code-compliant copy, call Good As Gold on 0121 236 7066.