HFSS Products and Brand Ads

28th June 2017

If you deal with a food account you will no doubt already be aware that the rules around products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) are about to be tightened up. By and large this doesn’t affect TV ads, as there are already strict guidelines in the BCAP code. However as part of the overhaul of the sector rules, BCAP has taken the opportunity to offer clarification on their guidelines on brand HFSS advertising which will affect TV.


HFSS Product Ads

The rules for HFSS product TV ads aren’t changing. If you have an ad for a product which is HFSS then it will receive the relevant scheduling restriction meaning it can’t be broadcast during programmes for, or of particular appeal to, under 16s.


Brand Ads

BCAP’s new guidance features a number of scenarios for what may be considered brand ads for an HFSS product vs brand ads not for an HFSS product, though acknowledges that the list is not exhaustive and is also subject to the exact content and tone of individual ads. We will continue to look at ads on a case by case basis.



An ad which features a brand name that is synonymous with an HFSS product, though it also features on non-HFSS products, is likely to be seen as an HFSS ad.


There may be an ad which refers to or features a product but doesn’t give enough information to the viewer to identify it specifically. In this case if the advertiser is unable to provide evidence that their range of that type of product is mainly non-HFSS then the ad will be considered an HFSS ad.


If a brand ad features a strapline, celebrity, licensed character, brand-generated character or branding strongly associated with a specific HFSS product then the ad will require the HFSS restriction. An ad for a specific non-HFSS product featuring these things may not require the HFSS restriction, so long as the non-HFSS product is not merely incidental.


You can read the full guidance note here.


Tips For Speeding Up Video Clearance

28th June 2017

Last month we published top tips from our New Business team that focused on recurring questions they receive. It was a heady mix of essential copy advice and sticky process issues. Well our Operations team had a read and realised they also had oodles of tips.


Our Ops team are the ones who first receive your rough and clocked video submissions, perform the technical checks and make sure all the paperwork is in order. Only when that’s all tickety-boo do they send it on to your exec who will look at the content itself. Here’s the first in a couple of batches of tips that will help you get your skates on so your ad can be approved much more quickly!


Help is available

When you upload the finished, clocked ad there are a few fields to fill out – visual artists, music details, additional advertisers and more. I’ll cover some of these below and more in a future post, but the most important thing to note is, if you don’t know what’s required leave the field blank and add a note to the Ops team in the ‘feedback’ tab. Alternatively, give the Ops team a shout. You can find your Operations Assistant by using the handy search on our website here, or drop the help team a line on help@clearcast.co.uk. Getting these things ironed out before submitting the wrong information can save a lot of back and forth.


What is a ‘visual artist’, and why do they have to be listed?

All that needs to be typed into the ‘Visual Artists’ field are the names of any people in the ad who are identifiable. Give us their first name and last name and leave out titles, character names and any other information. The only exception is for bands – include the names of the individual members shown and the band name as well. We will need the names of any people shown in film footage and magazine promos – even for quick flick throughs if the celebs are identifiable. We don’t need the names of people who aren’t identifiable – so if we only see hands or backs of heads then leave them out.


And why do we need this info? Simple – the BCAP code specifies that, in order to maintain a distinction between ads and programming, people who appear in children’s TV programmes mustn’t appear in ads during, directly before, or directly after that programme. See rule 32.10 for the full wording. With the names listed the stations know they can correctly schedule ads, so we aren’t able to approve finished ads without this information.


Parent and Child submissions

When you’ve got a lot of clocked ads that are all the same apart from a phone number or similar you can make one the ‘Parent’ submission and link all the others as ‘Children’. This makes managing the clearance a lot simpler from both ends. The only caveat is that the submissions all need to be created on the same day – If you create half last thing on Tuesday, the other half first thing Wednesday then they won’t all be able to be lumped together. In that case you’d need one Parent for the Tuesday submissions and another for the Wednesday ones. Still simpler than having them all separate at least!


Knowing your Linear from your VOD

When uploading script or video submissions you’ll need to tick a box to let us know whether the ad is for linear TV or for Video On Demand. Linear TV is just a fancy way of saying ‘normal’ TV – the stuff that’s on at set times of the day whether you’ve tuned in or not. Does getting this wrong really make that much of a difference to clearance?




Linear TV is covered by slightly different regulations compared to VOD. For linear TV ads we need to see substantiation for claims, for example, which is  often the most time consuming part of copy clearance. If you’ve got an ad which is only going on VOD then you will be able to get the ad approved much more quickly.


If you do get it wrong and upload a VOD ad but tick linear TV it’s not the end of the world – we’ll ask for substantiation for any claims and when we’re happy the ad will be approved and can run on VOD anyway. However if you submit an ad that’s meant to run on linear TV but accidentally tick VOD then you will find that when the ad has been approved it won’t be allowed on linear TV. And by that point you’ll be losing airtime while frantically trying to get your ad cleared properly.


If you realise you’ve uploaded something for the wrong category then drop the help team a line and they may be able to get it swapped over for you.


Super-users and accounts

Agencies have responsibility for their own users. At every agency there are Super-users who are able to create accounts for new starters. When they’ve worked their magic, enter your email address in the login screen and then click the ‘forgotten password’ link.


It’s very important that you don’t share logins – not only is it against the T&Cs of using CopyCentral (for data protection reasons) but also any emails about a submission go to the person who created it. You may be missing out on important updates about the submission status if you share a login, leading to delays while you wonder what’s taking so long.


Finally, if you’re a Super-user it’s your responsibility to remove users who leave your agency. People move around in the industry a lot, so leaving an account active when that person has gone off to work at a different agency opens you up to confidentiality breaches.

Compliance of Ads With Audio Description

15th June 2017

Some advertisers wish to audio describe (AD) their broadcast ads, achieved by adding an additional soundtrack which, for the benefit of blind and partially-sighted viewers, describes the visuals of an ad. There is no obligation for advertisers to do this and there is also no obligation for all elements of the visuals in an ad to be described.


Like all other ads that are broadcast, ads that include AD need to comply with the BCAP Code and, at the request of Clearcast’s shareholder broadcasters, need to be cleared by Clearcast in the usual way.  You can see our clearance process here


So that the normal clearance process can be followed we expect pre-production scripts, as well as detailing both the visuals and voice over, to include the exact wording that will be used to AD ads.  As AD is an added element to an ad, we recommend that advertisers and agencies give some extra time for clearance to allow Clearcast to assess it.


Post-production films should include the additional AD track as specified by the CopyCentral Digital File Specification Guide here.  If additional help is needed please email help@clearcast.co.uk


All viewers should be able to consume ads in a meaningful way and, because many contain either mandatory or qualifying text as well as other text such as pricing, advertisers should note that not all such ads will lend themselves to AD because it may not be possible to describe both superimposed text and visuals.  Advertisers and agencies are therefore encouraged to consider carefully the ads they choose to AD.


The BCAP Regulatory Policy team has published a statement indicating that broadcast and non-broadcast ads with access services, including those with AD, should comply with the BCAP and CAP Codes.  The statement says the ASA, in considering complaints about ads with AD may well assess only the AD and other audio elements, and not the visuals against the Code. The full statement can be read here.