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Legal aspects of newspaper and magazine advertising

Legal aspects of newspaper and magazine advertising

If you want to create an advertisement to be published in a newspaper or magazine - or most communication media which do not involve TV or radio - you need to ensure that you stick to certain rules on a range of matters, from age appropriateness to considerations about potential offence which might be caused. 

UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing

The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing(CAP Code) is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which has the power to ban or request changes to be made to any adverts which breach the rules. Sections of the code include: 

Misleading advertisements 

Any claims made about products must be true and benefits should not be exaggerated. Important information which would be likely to cause a consumer to make a decision about whether or not to purchase goods or services should be stated clearly and unambiguously. Pricing also needs to be accurate and should take into account the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Pricing Practices Guide. 

Harm and Offence 

Any non-broadcast advertising “must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence.” In particular, care must be taken to “avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.” If in doubt, it’s worth consulting with an industry professional to find out how best to proceed. 


Any marketing communications which are directed towards children “must contain nothing that is likely to result in their physical, mental or moral harm”. Furthermore, it should “not exploit their credulity, loyalty, vulnerability or lack of experience”. 

Medicine and health 

Adverts for medical products or which involve health claims are subject to particularly high levels of scrutiny and it’s vital that any such claims can be backed up with sufficient scientific evidence. Medical products need to have been approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies. 

Direct marketing 

As the CAP Code also covers direct marketing in non-broadcast communications, it reinforces the rules on data protection which can be found on the Information Commissioner’s website (http://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/data_protection). One of the most important duties is to provide any recipients of direct marketing (including mail, email and text messaging) with the ability to opt-out.

For the full code go to: http://www.cap.org.uk/Advertising-Codes/Non-broadcast-HTML.aspx

If you’re advertising goods or services, you should make sure your terms and conditions tally up with any marketing materials. A variety of sector specific Ts and Cs can be downloaded from our Business Documents Folder. Click below for further information.

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