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The ASA produces two codes

The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing, also known as the CAP Code, covers non-broadcast advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing communications (marketing communications). It covers:

  1. Compliance. Advertisers must adhere to the basic principle that all marketing communications should be legal, decent, honest and truthful. Marketing communications should reflect the spirit, not merely the letter, of the Code.
  2. Recognition of marketing communications. Marketing communications should be clearly identifiable as such.
  3. Misleading advertising. Claims must be backed up by evidence. Advertising should not mislead.
  4. Harm and offence. Communications should not cause harm or serious or widespread offence.
  5. Children. Additional care must be taken promoting to children.
  6. Privacy. Specific rules apply when depicting identifiable members of the public, as well as people with a public profile.
  7. Political advertisements. Code sometimes applies to political advertisements.
  8. Promotional marketing. Issues in respect of competitions, etc.
  9. Distance selling. Rules for marketing at a distance.
  10. Use of data for marketing.

Specific rules exist around advertising of:

  1. Environmental claims. Rules re “green claims”.
  2. Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products.
  3. Weight control and slimming.
  4. Financial products.
  5. Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims.
  6. Gambling.
  7. Lotteries.
  8. Alcohol.
  9. Motoring.
  10. Employment, homework schemes and business opportunities.
  11. Tobacco, rolling papers and filters.
  12. Electronic cigarettes.

The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code) applies to all advertisements (including teleshopping, content on self-promotional television channels, television text and interactive tv ads) and programme sponsorship credits on radio and television services licensed by Ofcom.

The BCAP Code is very similar in content to the CAP Code, with the following additional strictures:

7.   Political. This is not just about elections, but also includes influencing legislation.
10. Prohibited categories.  Lists products and services that are not permitted to be advertised on TV or radio at all.
15. Faith, religion and equivalent systems of belief.
16. Charities. Rules around donation, including refunds.
22. Premium-rate telephone services.
23. Telecommunications-based sexual entertainment services.
26. Services offering individual advice on consumer or personal problems.
27. Introduction and dating services.
29. Private investigation agencies.
30. Pornography.
31. Other categories of radio advertisements that require central copy clearance. Ads for adult products and services.
32. Scheduling. Rules, including those related to children; age-restricted products. Separation / placement rules incl. political and those related to text and interactive advertisements.