Products and their packaging, including leaflets for the product contained within, are generally excluded from the Scope of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code. However, when they are featured in marketing communications, the presentation of the ‘pack shot’ and any claims that are visible will fall within remit in that particular context.
Images of t-shirts with slogans like “sexy as fcuk”, “who gives a fcuk”, “fcuk like a bunny” and “fcuk ewe” in a catalogue were considered to have been drawn into the remit of the Code by virtue of them being advertised in a non-broadcast medium covered by the Code (French Connection Group Plc, 31 March 2004). An image of greetings card which stated “YOU’RE A CUNT SORRY, I MEANT TO SAY ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS” included in product listing on the Amazon website was also considered to be within the remit of the CAP Code (Smellyourmum.com Ltd, 20 March 2013). In both cases, while the images were directly relevant to the product being sold, and the products themselves were not subject to the Code, the marketer needed to take greater care when featuring them in advertising, particularly in terms of targeting.
Also, when packaging features a promotion the Code will apply to content which relates to that promotion (See ‘Promotional marketing: General’). The packaging of free samples could also be considered within remit if it has been specially designed rather than replicating faithfully the claims on the regular product packaging.
Ads which appear on packaging, and leaflets found within, which promote products other than the one bought, remain within remit.
Marketers should be aware that other bodies, such as Trading Standards and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), might cover packaging claims for foods and medicines.
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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