Obvious untruths, exaggeration (“puffery”) or deliberate hyperbole that are unlikely to mislead, incidental minor inaccuracies and unorthodox spellings are not necessarily in conflict with the Code provided they do not affect the accuracy or perception of the marketing communication in any material way.
Disclaimers, asterisked, footnoted or “small print” information should not contradict more prominent aspects of the message. Such information should be of sufficient size and/or prominence and be located and presented in such a manner as to be clearly and easily legible and/or audible; where appropriate such information should be linked to the relevant part of the main copy.
Whether the presentation of information is insufficient or likely to mislead depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the advertiser takes to make that information available to the consumer by other reasonably accessible means.
Advertisers may state an opinion about the quality or desirability of a product provided that it is clear that what they are expressing is their own opinion rather than a matter of fact and there is no likelihood of consumers being misled about any matter that is capable of objective assessment. Assertions or comparisons that go beyond subjective opinions should be capable of substantiation.
A marketing communication should not contain claims – whether direct or indirect, expressed or implied – which a consumer would be likely to regard as being objectively true unless the objective truth of the claims can
Before offering a marketing communication for publication, advertisers should satisfy themselves that they will be able to provide documentary evidence to substantiate all claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective. Relevant evidence should be sent without delay if requested by the ASAI and should be adequate to support both detailed claims and the overall impression created by the marketing communication.
Marketing communications should not:
(a) misuse, mischaracterise or misleadingly cite any technical data, e.g. research results or quotations from technical and scientific publications;
(b) use scientific terminology or vocabulary in such a way as to suggest falsely or misleadingly that an advertising claim has scientific validity.
Advertisers who use testimonials should be able to provide relevant supporting documentation and they should hold signed and dated proof for any testimonials they use; such information should be provided to the ASAI immediately on request. Testimonials by persons named or depicted in a marketing communication may be used only with the prior permission of those persons and only where such permission still holds.
Testimonials do not constitute substantiation and the opinions expressed in them should be supported, where necessary, with independent evidence of their accuracy. Claims based on a testimonial should conform to the Code.
References to research tests, trials, professional endorsements, research facilities and professional journals should be used only with the permission of those concerned and they should be relevant and current. All such tests, trials and endorsements should be signed and dated. Any establishment referred to should be under appropriate professional supervision.
Marketing communications should not display a trust mark, quality mark or equivalent without the necessary authorisation. Marketing communications should not claim that the advertiser (or any other entity referred to), the marketing communication or the advertised product has been approved, endorsed or authorised by any public or other body if it has not. Such a claim should not be made without complying with the terms of the approval, endorsement or authorisation from the relevant body. It shall not be for the ASAI to determine this, but evidence will be accepted from the relevant body.
If a price is stated in a marketing communication, it should relate to the product depicted or specified in the marketing communication. Care should be taken to ensure that prices and illustrated products match.
Except in marketing communications addressed primarily to the trade, prices quoted should normally include VAT and other taxes, duties or inescapable costs to the consumer. Where applicable, the amounts of any other charges, such as those arising from the method of purchase or payment, should be stated. (Where marketing communications are addressed to the trade and quote a VAT-exclusive price, it should be clear that the price is VAT-exclusive.)
If a marketing communication involves a claim or creates an impression that a product was previously offered at a different price or at a particular price, it
should be the case that the product was in fact previously offered at the specified price openly and in good faith and for a reasonable period of time.
Advertisers should be in a position to meet any reasonable demand created by their advertising. If a product proves to be unavailable for any reason, or only available in insufficient quantity to meet demand, advertisers should take immediate action to ensure that any further marketing communications are amended or withdrawn.
Where there is limited availability of some or all of the products advertised, apart from indicating that there may be other terms and conditions which apply, advertisers should:
(a) not exaggerate the availability of any of those products, and
(b) be able to demonstrate that there is a reasonable supply or proportion of each of the various products available.
Advertisers should not use the technique of switch selling, where sales staff criticise the advertised product or suggest that it is not available and recommend purchase of a more expensive alternative. Advertisers should not place obstacles in the way of purchasing the product or delivering it promptly.
Comparisons are permitted in the interests of public information and vigorous competition. They can be explicit or implied and can relate to advertisers’ own products or those of their competitors. Marketing communications that do not identify a specific competitor can still be considered to contain an implicit comparative claim as a comparison could be made with all competition within an industry, for example, unqualified superlative claims.
Comparisons should be fair and should not give rise to a likelihood of a consumer being misled. In any marketing communication that uses comparisons, the basis of selection should be clear and the elements of comparison should not be unfairly selected in a way that gives the advertisers an artificial advantage.
A claim that any product is superior to others should only be made where there is clear evidence to support the claim. Wording which implies superior or superlative status – such as, “number one”, “leading”, “largest”, or similar – should be capable of substantiation with market share data or similar proof.
Marketing communications should not exploit or make unfair use of the goodwill attached to the name, trademark, trade name, other distinguishing mark, brand, slogan or marketing communications campaign of any other entity or person.
Where a marketing communication refers to a guarantee, the full terms of the guarantee should be available for consumers to inspect before they are committed to purchase. Any and all potentially substantial limitations or exclusions (such as, for example, one year; parts only) should be clearly indicated in the marketing communication.
Marketing communications should not claim or imply that after-sales service is available in a European Economic Area (EEA) member state in which the advertised product or such a service is not available for sale.
If a marketing communication (in a language other than an official language of the EEA state where the trader is located) offers after-sales service but the after-sales service is not available in the language of the marketing communication, the advertiser should explain this to the consumer before the contract or agreement to purchase is concluded.