Updated Definition of Advertising and Advertisement

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has updated the definition of Advertising and Advertisement. It now states:

“Advertising and advertisement(s)” are any message, the content of which is controlled directly or indirectly by the advertiser, expressed in any language and communicated in any medium with the intent to influence the choice, opinion or behaviour of those to whom it is addressed.”

The rapidly changing world of advertising, particularly the digital world, has provided an opportunity for the ASA to update its definitions to focus on the intent of the advertiser. When an advertiser controls the content of a message – be that directly or indirectly – in order to influence choice, opinion or behaviour – then the published or broadcast activity is likely to be advertising. Advertorials, advertiser websites, advertiser-controlled content within Influencers content e.g. blogs & vlogs and ‘native advertising’ are all considered advertising under this definition.

The ASA Code of Ethics, Rule 1 requires that all advertisements are readily recognised as such:

1. Identification – Advertisements should be clearly distinguishable as such, whatever their form and whatever the medium used; when an advertisement appears in a medium which contains news or editorial matter, it must be presented so that it is readily recognised as an advertisement.

Advertisers are reminded of the requirement to make sure any advertiser controlled message in any media is identifiable as advertising and that this is clear to the intended audience.

The ASA does not cover naming, labelling or packaging (other than for alcohol products) however, when the image of a product or its packaging is featured in an advertisement this will be in jurisdiction.

The ASA is happy to discuss matters relating to jurisdiction. When complaints are received relating to content that may or may not be advertising, comment is sought from the parties to the complaint and a ruling made about whether it can be considered or not.