The ASA has updated guidance for Christmas Ads Step into (a compliant) Christmas - ASA | CAP
A summary with links is provided below but also additional pointers for those advertising food products including HFSS foods and alcohol.
Under Pressure - Ensure ads are not encouraging excessive spending in an irresponsible manner using ‘buy now pay later’ credit schemes. ASA provides an online article for more.
Do they know the T&Cs? - When administering Christmas promotions please ensure that all significant terms and conditions are included in the ads and that the full T&Cs are made easily accessible.
Advertisers must also take care to not mislead consumers with false ‘time-limited’ promos.
Be Merry, Be Responsible… - Advertiser’s do have an obligation to ensure their ads are not seen to be encouraging excessive or irresponsible drinking. A summary of ASA advice on alcohol advertising can be accessed here Drink in some advice on alcohol marketing - ASA | CAP
Think of the Children - Advertisers must ensure that any ads targeting or featuring children are not exploiting their credulity, loyalty, vulnerability, or lack of experience by making them feel inferior for not buying (or encouraging other to buy) an advertised product. ASA provides some reminders.
HFSS - Also, HFSS product ads should not be directed at under 16's through the selection of media or the context in which they appear. Additionally, the rule requires that no medium should be used to advertise HFSS products if more than 25% of its audience is under 16. A summary of rules for advertising HFSS products is provided by the ASA at A tasty reminder about the rules for HFSS product ads - ASA | CAP
The CAP Code states: 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. The BCAP Code states: 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. Guidance is provided here Social Responsibility - ASA | CAP
Sometimes it can still go wrong. This week Marks & Spencer has apologised after an outtake from a Christmas advert was perceived to be offensive to Palestinians. Christmas paper party hats were shown in a fire grate. The hats are green, red and silver were seen by some on social media to resemble the colours of the Palestinian flag.
M&S posted the image on their Instagram with the caption: "This Christmas, do only what you love... like saying no to paper hats (although, if we're honest, we're partial)."
The Instagram post was shared on Wednesday morning 1 Nov, but subsequently deleted. In a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, M&S on Wednesday night said: "Today we shared an outtake image from our Christmas Clothing and Home advert, which was recorded in August. It showed traditional, festive-coloured red, green and silver Christmas paper party hats in a fire grate. While the intent was to playfully show that some people just don't enjoy wearing paper Christmas hats over the festive season, we have removed the post following feedback and we apologise for any unintentional hurt caused."
It is not known if any complaints have been made to the ASA but M&S took the decision to act quickly to remove any escalation. This underlines the importance of a proactive marketing strategy to deal with the unexpected.
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