Marketing and advertising law – Advertising codes of practice

Sep 20th '16

There are 2 advertising codes of practice that describe how businesses should advertise.


They cover all kinds of promotional communications, depending where the advert or promotion will appear.


  • Non-broadcast media

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) non-broadcast code has rules that cover non-broadcast advertising (for example print, online), sales promotion and direct marketing (such as telesales and email).


The code specifies standards for accuracy and honesty that businesses must stick to, including specific conditions, such as:


  • advertising to children
  • causing offence
  • political advertising


  • Broadcast media (for example TV, radio)

You must follow the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) broadcast code, which covers issues including taste, decency and product placement.


As well as setting standards about accuracy and honesty businesses must stick to, they also have rules about things like scheduling.


  • General broadcasting rules

You also need to follow rules about taste, decency, product placement etc that apply to all broadcasting.


These are called ‘broadcast codes’. Find out more about them on the Ofcom website.


  • Enforcing the rules

The rules are enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).


Anyone who thinks advertising rules have been broken can complain to the ASA within 3 months of the advert appearing.


If an advert breaks the rules, it may be withdrawn. If the product does not match the description or the advert breaks the law, you could be prosecuted.




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