As we celebrate the exciting news of the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy ( and commiserate her morning sickness which I can sooo sympathise with), some of you may be fast forwarding by nine months and wanting to tie in promotions with the Royal arrival. That is great, but you need to be aware of specific rules* that apply orelse the Advertising Standards Authority will be after you!
The bottom line is that advertising should not go as far as claiming or implying that a particular product is endorsed by the Royal Family or that a product is affiliated to royal events when it is not. This is in line with the general provisions on misleading advertising. You must obtain written permission before implying any personal approval of the advertised product and reminds marketers that those who don’t want to be associated with the product could have a legal claim ( Rule 6.1).
Specifically, members of the Royal Family shouldn’t normally be shown or mentioned in a marketing communication without their prior permission (rule 6.2) and the Royal Arms or Emblems must not be used without prior permission from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office. References to a Royal Warrant should be checked with the Royal Warrant Holders’ Association (Rule 3.52).
The Lord Chamberlain’s office has issued guidelines regarding the sale of souvenir products. Advertisements for souvenir products are not, in and of themselves, likely to be considered to imply a Royal endorsement, although care should be taken in the copy to ensure that the ad doesn’t imply that a souvenir product is official memorabilia. In light of rule 6.2, the ASA advise against using images which have been provided for souvenirs or other specific uses in marketing communications for unrelated products.
As always, advertisers must ensure that advertising for such products is not misleading. In October 2012 the ASA upheld a complaint against an ad for a Prince William Royal Bridegroom Porcelain Doll because the image in the ad was found not to be an accurate representation of the product and therefore breached the Code. There is no minimum number of complaints required to spark an investigation, however it’s worth noting that the popularity of such products can result in a higher level of complaints if something goes wrong . This was the cae in August this year regarding a Royal Jubilee DVD offer .
It is worth noting that the Code states that an incidental reference unconnected with the advertised product, or references to material such as a book, article or film about a member of the Royal Family, may be acceptable.
Lastly, anyone considering marketing food supplements to pregnant women should be aware that significant changes are afoot in relation to health claims made on food products, please see this guidance for further information. The Comittee of Advertising Practice also has specific guidance on referring to Morning Sickness here.
*The Rules referred to are from the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing ( usually referred to as the “CAP Code”). This Code must be followed by all advertisers, agencies and media. The Code is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, who can take steps to remove or have amended any ads that breach these rules.