On Black Friday and as the Christmas period fast approaches, advertisers should be careful to ensure their ads are compliant with the rules.
The ASA has published two articles relating to Christmas advertising which highlighted a few things to bear in mind to help avoid falling foul of the rules around misleading and offensive ads – the articles can be found here and here respectively.
These articles raised several interesting points, a couple of which are detailed below.
Offensive Ads – As mentioned in the quote below, ads must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. For example, whilst it may be ok to feature religion in a light hearted or humorous way, an ad which mocks or denigrates religion is unlikely to be seen as compliant. This seems a sensible approach although it does raise a question as to when an ad stops becoming humorous and instead becomes offensive.
Misleading Ads – Advertisers must ensure pricing and promotions are clear and accurate to avoid disappointing consumers. Of particular note in relation to promotions is the issue around use of the phrase “subject to availability” and the need for promoters to really consider whether they can fulfil the offers they are making in their ads and meet the ensuing demand.
All in all, this guidance from the ASA serves as a timely reminder that whilst brands race to have the most effective Black Friday ad or the favourite Christmas ad, this needs to be balanced against the need to comply with the rules.
Advertisers should therefore take care when preparing their Christmas ads to ensure they don’t contain anything which could cause serious or widespread offence, particularly on the grounds of religion, but also of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.