The Appliance Of Compliance


Committee of Advertising Practice


Published on 12 June 2014


by James Tebbett

(WireNews+Co)

London, England

Committee of Advertising Practice
Committee of Advertising Practice

The CAP Compliance team takes action to bring into line those advertisers unwilling or unable to adhere to ASA rulings.  Its work, which forms a crucial part of the self-regulatory system, often goes unseen or unheralded. 

Repeat offenders

As always, the Compliance team has been navigating the demands of casework and longer-term projects, and the unseasonably pleasant summer weather has brought with it a further element of our work: the repeat offenders review

We’re currently working through our reports in order to review those advertisers that have breached the Codes on multiple occasions across the last year-to-date and taking action as necessary. In most cases, this action will be a strong reminder to review their compliance processes and to take advantage of the Copy Advice team's free service but, in some exceptional cases, we will be requesting advertisers to come to a meeting to discuss their compliance record. We will be contacting those companies affected in the next few weeks. 

Legal backstop powers

We’ve also been continuing to work with our new legal backstop, Trading Standards. Having referred the first two non-compliant advertisers to them under the new legal backstop regime, Camden Trading Standards is now working on behalf of the National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) on our next set of referrals. We’ve been working closely together to ensure the backstop is robust and effective.

Copycats

To support the ASA’s work around ‘Copycat’ websites, the Compliance team has been proactively monitoring the sponsored ads in this market to ensure a level-playing-field in line with previous rulings. In essence, this has involved asking advertisers to remove claims such as “gov” and “official” from their ads, and taking sanction action by asking search websites to remove non-compliant ads. In most cases this hasn’t been necessary and advertisers have been willing to change their ads, but if you see any ads you think could be a problem, please contact the ASA Complaints team.  

Sector compliance

To round off the project work update, our sector compliance project on theatre ticket pricing has reached a satisfactory conclusion and the project on lettings agents and non-optional fees is almost complete. Look out for an article about letting agents’ fees next month.  

The flow of case-work, notoriously capricious, has revealed some trends in recent weeks:

  • “Teething” and other health-related efficacy claims for amber jewellery. If you sell amber jewellery for babies or adults, please make sure you don’t claim it can have healing or pain-relieving qualities, because these claims are yet to be proved.
  • Sponsored search ads for prescription-only medicines such as Viagra. Rule 12.12 of the CAP Code says that prescription-only medicines (POMs) may not be advertised to the public so please ensure your ads do not directly or indirectly advertise POMs. Claims such as “erection pills” are a definite no-no.
  • Dr claims for chiropractors. Chiropractors: generally speaking it is likely to be acceptable to state “Doctor of Chiropractic” as a description of your profession if it is used on its own (without the prefix “Dr”), provided the general context does not imply you hold a general medical qualification.

If anyone knows of any connection between these seemingly disparate markets, or if you see any ads you think breach the Code, please contact the ASA Complaints team and they will pass it to us if there is a clear-cut breach of an ASA ruling.


James Tebbett is a Senior Compliance Executive and is currently working on projects about “copycat” websites, the scheduling of alcohol ads on TV and online behavioural advertising.


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Posted 2014-06-12 14:40:00