Definition of Advertising and Advertisement

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 Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) definition of Advertising and Advertisement is as follows:

“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 Advertising Standards Code, Rule 2 (a) requires that all advertisements are readily recognised as such:

Rule 2 (a) Identification Guidelines
Advertisements must be identified as such.
  • Content controlled, directly or indirectly, by the advertiser must not be disguised as something other than an advertisement. It must be obvious to, and well understood by, the audience that they are engaging with an advertisement regardless of the form the advertisement takes or the platform where it appears.
  • Disclaimers and other qualifying statements must be clearly visible and easily understood.
  • Additional guidelines are provided in the ASA’s Guidance Note on the Identification of Advertisements.

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.

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