Financial products and services: Credit Unions

Mar 26th '24

Section 14 of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code provides general guidance on advertisements for financial products and services. This section recognises that financial advertising is subject to numerous statutes and regulations. The Background gives a brief summary of relevant legislation and the rest of the section mirrors, to some extent, the requirements set out in those regulations.


In brief, the Code generally covers financial marketing communications that are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Technical aspects of non-broadcast ads for products by FCA-regulated businesses (for example, those by credit unions) are likely to be outside the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) remit.


What aspects are considered subject to the Code?

“Non-technical” aspects of consumer credit union marcoms are likely to fall within the remit of the CAP Code. Issues such as offence, social responsibility, superiority claims, fear and distress and competitor denigration are all issues that are likely to be subject to the Code.


Social responsibility

The Code states that all ads should be socially responsible by being prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society (rule 1.3). The ASA has previously upheld complaints against marketers whose ads encouraged taking out loans to assist with Christmas spending. These ads were looked at as part of wider piece of work on social responsibility in ads for loans offered for Christmas.


In 2024, the ASA investigated an ad that featured the claims “With a hassle-free Christmas Loan, you can take the stress out of Christmas” and “Cherish every moment of the holidays, without fretting over your budget” along with an image of someone relaxing with their feet up. While the reference to ‘hassle free’ was acknowledged as being in relation to the application process, the ASA considered that the ad implied that taking out a Christmas loan would avoid the financial worry associated with Christmas. The ASA considered that the ad encouraged taking out a loan to fund Christmas spending in a way that was irresponsible, and therefore breached the Code (Capital Credit Union Ltd, 28 February 2024).


Also in 2024, an ad featured claims such as “Make Your Christmas Merrier Than Ever With PCCU”, and “Need some extra cash to make this Christmas unforgettable? Look no further!”. The ASA considered that claims, such as these, suggested those who were struggling financially could obtain loan to spend more than they would otherwise have been able to afford on seasonal purchases. They concluded that the ad encouraged the taking out of a loan to fund Christmas spending in a way that was irresponsible, and therefore breached the Code (Pennine Community Credit Union Ltd t/a PCCU, 28 February 2024).


Source: CAP


Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA.


About CAP

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is the sister organisation of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and is responsible for writing the Advertising Codes.


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