Thursday, September 02, 2010

Advertising Standards will cover Social Media Campaigns!

All UK advertising agencies, companies and other organisations using social media for advertising take note: from the 1March 2011 the Advertising Standards Authority remit has been extended to include websites and social media!

This means that the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (Yawn - we know it as the CAP Code for short) will automatically apply to all social media and real time web campaigns.


http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=851


For me this is the first obstacle faced by the boom in new digital marketing that has grown out of the social media bubble.  The CAP code places various very real obligations on advertisers.  The most important for me are the obligations not to mislead and to protect children!  This begs the question how do you protect children from certain advertising in an open, transparent and viral community? Does there need to be a virtual watershed.....

Keeping the theme of my blog running - the risks caused by the code will be no different to traditional advertising, the only difference being the risks are multiplied because you are advertising without restriction to huge cross sections of the population.  Thinking out loud - how would you take down a tweet that offends the CAP code if it is being retweeted by thousands of users?  Answers on a postcard....

Before March 2011 all agencies, companies and organisations should be making themselves familiar or refreshing their understanding of the CAP code in the context of social media.  Agencies should also be making it clear to their clients that edgy campaigns run the risk of breaching the CAP code.  If the agency has full control of the campaign, has it sufficiently excluded CAP code compliance from its T&C's?  Conversely, if a company is paying for a campaign have you received a warranty from your agency confirming that the campaign they run will comply.  An interesting risk question and I wonder how many organisations have discussed this with their insurers?