The CAP Code

The British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing Practice (The CAP Code) used by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to self regulate the UK marketing industry.

The underlying principles of the CAP Codes are that promotions should;

  • Be legal, decent, honest and truthful (rule 1.1)
  • Be prepared with a sense of responsibility towards consumers and society (rule 1.3)
  • Adhere to the principles of fair competition (rule 1.6)

There are also more detailed CAP Code requirements  that call for promoters to;

  • Support any claims made with documentary evidence (rule 3.7)
  • Are responsible for all aspects and all stages of their promotions and should ensure that promotions are conducted equitably, promptly and efficiently and promoters should be seen to deal fairly and honourably with consumers. Promoters should avoid causing unnecessary disappointment (rule 8.2, 8.9, to 8.13)
  • Should ensure that unsuitable or irresponsible material does not reach consumers (rule 8.6). Promotions should not be socially undesirable to the target audience by encouraging excessive consumption or inappropriate use (rule 8.5).
  • Make it clear that stocks are limited and always try to satisfy demand. They may not rely on statements such as ‘subject to availability’ (rule 9.5).
  • Should not encourage consumers to apply (via purchases) for promotional items if the number of those items is limited (rule 8.11)

In addition the CAP Code states that;

  • Special care must be taken when promotions are aimed at children (rule 8.8).
  • The use of the word ‘free’ is subject to various controls which are set out in rules 3.23-3.26 of the CAP and BCAP Code.
  • Promoters should take legal advice before running promotions with prizes, including competitions, prize draws, instant win offers and premium payment promotions to ensure that the mechanisms involved do not make them unlawful lotteries.
  • See [LINK – back to first page} for specific clauses relating to the running of promotions.

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