The UK laws on marketing and advertising are strict, prohibiting all unfair commercial practices. You must ensure any advertising, including direct marketing, meets the current codes of practice.
Certain regulations affect and restrict what advertisers can do – and cannot do. Besides that, advertisers need to describe the product or service in an accurate manner.
Specific laws and regulations apply to the different forms of marketing and advertising used in the United Kingdom.
So, when a business advertises to consumers or to other businesses (B2B), it must be an advert that is:
- An accurate description of the product or the service
- Honest and truthful
- Socially responsible (not stir anti-social, illegal, or unsafe behaviour)
There are two essential advertising codes of practice to follow on top of the regulations. Adhering to the BCAP and CAP codes will help you make legal advertising and marketing campaigns.
Specific Requirements for Some Products
UK laws on marketing and advertising also implement specific requirements to certain sectors. Among the most common are:
- Beauty products
- Environmentally friendly products
You would not be able to claim and advertise that a drink is ‘low in alcohol’ unless it contains between 0.5% and 1.2% alcohol by volume.
Protecting Data in Advertising
As a rule, advertising and marketing will result in the gathering, using, and storing of information about present or potential customers. In this case, the rules on data protection and your business would apply.
Regulations Affecting Advertising
Advertising to Consumers
A whole raft of regulations affect the way businesses advertise to consumers. The laws come from the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (and the amendments in 2014).
As such, you cannot use adverts to mislead or harass consumers. Typical examples might include those which:
- Contain deceptive or completely false messages.
- Use aggressive sales techniques.
- Omit important or essential information.
Note: CMA produce a basic guide for businesses on the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
Advertising to Businesses (B2B)
The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations covers the law on advertising to businesses. All adverts must be accurate and honest. Besides that, you must not make any misleading comparisons with your competitors. Typical examples might include:
- Comparing a product with the product of a competitor even though it is not the same.
- Using the exact same (or very similar) logo or trademark that a competitor uses.
Note: You can download legislation titled ‘The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008’. It details further regulations covering advertising to businesses.
Penalties for Breaching the Regulations
There are severe consequences for breaking the regulations on advertising. If you get reported to a local Trading Standards office it can result in a fine, prosecution, or imprisonment.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Advertising Codes of Practice
There are various ways to advertise your product, such as in broadcast media and non-broadcast media. But, all adverts must follow the advertising industry codes of practice in United Kingdom.
Describing Your Product
The description of a product must be accurate when used in advertising. Thus, making a claim about your product means you must be able to prove what you are saying.
Direct Marketing Regulations
Businesses need specific consent to send most types of direct marketing strategies to customers. You must follow direct marketing rules in United Kingdom to avoid the penalties for breaking them.