Christmas advertising: Key considerations for advertisers

7th December 2020

With Christmas fast approaching, brands are tapping into the festive season with their campaigns and promotions. The ASA has some suggestions for advertisers when it comes to avoiding misleading, offensive or irresponsible advertising.

Misleading advertising

With the rise of online shopping, advertisers must take care when making delivery claims in their ads. Brands should anticipate any potential delays or disruptions to orders and ensure their delivery claims are achievable, especially when consumers are likely anticipating delivery of their purchases prior to Christmas. Brands should also ensure costs associated with delivery are made clear to the consumer.

Offensive advertising

Many of the complaints received by the ASA regarding offensive advertising around Christmas are to do with religion or beliefs. Christmas is a time that holds religious significance for many families and Rule 1(c) of the Advertising Standards Code sets out that Advertisements must not contain anything that is indecent, or exploitative, or degrading, or likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence, or give rise to hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule. Light hearted advertisements which play on humour or satire may be found to be acceptable in some situations, however advertisers should proceed with caution and consider the medium and targeting of such advertisements.

Responsible advertising

Advertisers should take extra care when advertising products covered by the Children and Young People’s Advertising Code. It is important to ensure such advertisements do not encourage children or young people to urge their caregivers to purchase products for them, or condone peer pressure by implying inferiority for not having the advertised product.

Brands must also ensure alcohol advertisements meet the requirements of the Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol, which states that advertisements must not imply that the success of a social occasion depends on the presence or consumption of alcohol. In addition, advertisers must avoid the depiction of excessive, irresponsible, or harmful drinking behaviours.

More information on the Advertising Standards Code and five sector Codes is available here.