Flashing images in advertising

Dec 18th '15

Advertisers must make sure that their ads do not contain flickering images or types of patterns which may cause problems for people with photosensitive epilepsy (PSE). The reach of advertising combined with the potential effects of harmful ads on those with PSE can make problematic ads a cause for significant concern.


Advertisers should familiarise themselves with the relevant rules. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) routinely takes advice from Ofcom’s technical specialists where it considers a complaint provides grounds for concern. Advertisers should ensure that their ads have passed a Harding Flash and Pattern Analyser (FPA) Test.


As part of its regulatory role Ofcom investigates complaints about flashing images in broadcast television programming. In September 2015, it found The Voice UK: the Live Final on BBC1 to be In Breach of the Broadcasting Code because once performance included flashing images, without any warning beforehand.


Issues with flashing images are not just confined to television, although the ASA is yet to uphold complaints against an ad in non-broadcast media on these grounds, non-broadcast advertisers who intend to use flashing imagery should review the rules and Ofcom guidance.


If you are unsure how this guidance affects you, please get in touch with us or take a look at our advertising review services.


Ofcom is the communications regulator. They regulate the TV and radio sectors, fixed line telecoms, mobiles, postal services, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate.


The Advertising Standards Authority is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media.


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