Unlocking the global ad rules

24th February 2015

Did you know..?

In South Africa, 3% of complaints relate to gender issues in advertising? But in Australia the MAJORITY of complaints relate to sex, nudity and discrimination?

In Spain there are around 500 laws that apply directly to advertising?

In Quebec, Canada there is legislation requiring ads to be in French only?


Everyone knows that advertising rules are likely to differ from country to country. So if you are an advertiser who wants to advertise your product abroad or an agency working with a global client, it’s vital you understand the rules and regulations you’ll face right at the start of an international campaign to avoid wasting time and money.

Here at Clearcast we’ve been busy working with EASA (European Advertising Standards Alliance) to gather loads of expert advice from around the world to pass on to those who need to know the dos and don’ts of advertising in other countries.

We’re delighted to announce we now have filmed presentations from expert speakers from 19 markets, which go through the eight “hottest” sectors of advertising, clarifying the rules in their region.

The regions we have in our video library are:

  1. Argentina
  2. Australia
  3. Brazil
  4. Canada
  5. Central & Eastern Europe
  6. France
  7. Germany
  8. Hungary
  9. India
  10. Italy
  11. Mexico
  12. Poland
  13. Romania
  14. Russia
  15. South Africa
  16. Spain
  17. The Netherlands
  18. Turkey
  19. USA

The sectors are:

  1. Misleading advertising
  2. Advertising to Children
  3. Food & Drink
  4. Alcohol
  5. Gambling
  6. Environment
  7. Harm & Offence
  8. Automotive

And have a read of some of the fabulous feedback we’ve already received on the videos:


“This gives reassurance that you can speak properly around the rules in countries that are not your own, giving advice to clients around the specific rules in each area.”

Samuel, M&C Saatchi

“More and more brands operate across various markets, it is extremely useful to know the differences in regulation.”


You won’t find such a treasure trove of  well-priced and helpful videos on this topic anywhere else online (or in one place!), so make sure you check out our library next time you need to take that ad abroad. Prices start at £25 per video and invoice and subscription options are also available. You can go for just one sector in one country, one sector across all countries or all sectors across one country – so you really can pick and mix as you like.

GO TO THE VIDEO LIBRARY NOW – The video libary has been removed as of 23/03/2020 as the infomation is no longer up-to-date . Please email us with any questions you have regarding International ad rules. 

For general questions about the library  and questions relating to subscriptions and pricing structures please email training@clearcast.co.uk

The Clear View: Booking.com

19th February 2015

There have been a number of ads in recent months that have included what is best described as ‘swearword play’. A Booking.com ad was recently investigated by the ASA in response to a large number of complaints that they had used the word ‘booking’ as a substitute for a vaguely similar sounding swearword, and that this was offensive and likely to encourage children to swear.


Here is a sample of the copy: ‘It doesn’t get any booking better than this. Look at the view, look at the booking view. This is exactly what you booking need.’


Clearly the use of the word ‘booking’ could be construed as a replacement for a certain expletive, but when we decided to approve the ad we considered that that serious or widespread offence was unlikely. If the substitute word had sounded more like the expletive so as to make the substitution more obvious then we might have had a tougher decision to make. This was the problem for The Sofa King who came unstuck when a complaint against their 2011 press ad was upheld by the ASA. The offending phrase in this case was, ‘Where the prices are Sofa King low’.


We felt that the swearword play in the booking.com ad was oblique enough not to be gratuitous and we felt it was being used in an entirely appropriate context. The ad is about booking a holiday and the repetition of the word ‘booking’ is intended to reinforce the advertiser’s brand. Moreover, the word is always enunciated clearly in the voice over so that there can be no confusion over what is being said.


Fortunately the ASA made the same assessment of the ad as we did and chose not to uphold the complaints. Clearly there is a fine line between what is acceptable swearword play and what is unacceptably offensive. The advice from us would be to keep the copy sufficiently distinct so as not to be generally confused with the swearword, this way your ad is unlikely to cause offence and unlikely to be recognised as a reference to a swearword by children. Children are very well protected by advertising regulation so if there is a possibility that an ad will encourage children to swear then we will apply a scheduling restriction. Since there wasn’t any swearing in the booking.com ad and because the swearword play was oblique we did not apply a restriction, and on this point the ASA also agreed with our decision.


Read the full adjudication on the ASA website.


Seb Lynch, Copy Development Manager at Clearcast.


Update 8th April 2015: On another ruling, for Bedworld, the ASA decided that the reference in an ad to “ship this bed” may be confused by younger viewers with a swear word. We hadn’t put a scheduling restriction on that ad because we had felt the reference made sense in the context, however the ASA took a different view and felt an “ex kids” timing restriction should have been applied. As a result of the ASA’s decision, the ad will now not appear in or around children’s programming and we are likely to apply this restriction to other ads in a similar vein.



HD Commercials and your clearance

10th February 2015

Sky has announced that it will commence the broadcasting of commercial content in the true HD format from Sunday 1st March 2015.


This means that SD and HD versions of commercials will now be distributed to broadcasters according to their preferred specification.


What this means for the clearance of your creative:


  • The same clock number should be used irrespective of whether the commercial format is SD or HD. Clearcast will not normally clear the same creative under different clock numbers as this will slow down our workflow and delay clearance for everyone.


  • Where we are asked to clear the same creative under different clock numbers, for example where an HD version has been clocked separately in error, we will apply a charge for clearance.


  • There is no need to resubmit previously cleared commercials with new clock numbers if you remaster them in HD. The clock number of the previously cleared commercial should be used.


Following these simple steps will save time and money on unnecessary clearances.


If Clearcast are asked to clear the same commercial under both SD and HD clock numbers by some clients it will increase our clearance times overall which will be detrimental to the industry as a whole. Therefore, where clients have a specific reason to submit separate HD as well as SD clocks for the same commercial we will clear both, however levy a £250 (exc. VAT) charge for the additional clock.

2014 Clearances in Brief

06th February 2015

2014 was another busy year for Clearcast. The number of scripts we considered stayed fairly level with over 35,000 scripts submitted for our scrutiny. The total number of films (TVCs) was up on 2013 by about 2,000, taking the total we saw to just over 67,000.


We began to migrate agencies onto our new online clearance system CopyCentral in July. This resulted in the copy clearance teams working across two systems in the busiest time of the year. Overall throughout the year, we averaged 84% of responses to script submissions in four days, which is slightly below our 85% target. We continued to exceed our targets for films and 96% of all TVCs were turned around in two days.


Our record of clearing ads that stay on air remains very good. Formal investigations of ads that we cleared resulted in 75 upheld adjudications from the ASA. This amounts to 0.1% of all film submissions we considered resulting in an adverse adjudication. We do our best to get your ads to air and keep them there.

Easter Copy Deadlines

04th February 2015

Joint UK Broadcasters – 2015 Easter Holidays


For VoD campaigns running between March 30th – April 7th all copy, rotations and tracking tags to be received by March 26th.


Copy & Instructions Delivery Timetable


Airdate                              Copy Instructions By            Copy Delivery By

Mon 30th March                 25th March                               25th March

Tues 31st March                26th March                               26th March

Wed 1st April                      27th March                              27th March

Thurs 2nd April                   30th March                              30th March

Fri 3rd April**                      30th March                              30th March

Sat 4th April                        30th March                              30th March

Sun 5th April                       31st March                              31st March

Mon 6th April**                    31st March                              31st March

Tues 7th April                      31st March                              31st March


** Bank holiday

These deadlines have been agreed by: ITV, Sky Media, Channel 4, Channel 5 & Turner Broadcasting.


Agencies with clients for whom the indicated deadlines cannot be met should contact individual broadcasters to obtain their agreement.  To comply with these deadlines please ensure additional time is factored in for Clearcast approval.