Marketers are urged to obtain written permission before implying any personal approval of the advertised product. Marketers should recognise that those who do not want to be associated with the product could have a legal claim (Rule 6.1). In 2006, the ASA upheld a complaint that an ad, for a litigation service, that featured an extensive list of names of legal counsels and the companies for which they worked. The ASA concluded the ad wrongly implied that those listed endorsed the advertiser (Barlow Lyde and Gilbert, 20 September 2006). The ASA has also upheld a complaint about an ad that implied Royal endorsement (M Llwellyn, 30 November 2005) and a complaint from a woman whose image was featured alongside a fictitious testimonial. The ASA concluded that the brochure misleadingly implied the woman used and endorsed the product (Phyto Nature Source, 25 October 2006).
If it is obvious from the context that the celebrity or personality shown has not endorsed the product, the ASA is unlikely to uphold complaints. Examples have included the use of Cherie Blair to promote beer and Prince Charles to promote safety eyewear. If there is a definite implication that an endorsement exists or if it is unclear whether the personality has endorsed a product or service, marketers are in danger of breaching the Code (Herbametrics Ltd, 3 July 2002).
Marketers should ensure that they hold signed proof that personalities have endorsed their product if they state or imply an endorsement (147 Racing Ltd, 9 April 2003). Rules 3.45 to 3.52 provide guidelines on using testimonials and endorsements.
So that the integrity of the self-regulatory system can be retained, marketing communications should not refer to advice received from CAP or imply an endorsement by the ASA or CAP (Rule 3.49).
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. CAP’s Advice Online entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
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