Staying safe with in-car tech ads

09th November 2017

Clearcast – A Safe Pair of Hands


By Niamh McGuinness, Head of Copy Clearance


Those that work with Clearcast will know that our job is to work on behalf of broadcasters to get ads to air and to keep them there.  We do this, firstly, by applying the rules of the advertising code and its accompanying guidance alongside our own Notes of Guidance.  During the clearance process, we also take account of published ASA rulings to help inform us on what is acceptable.


Rulings can be applied in different ways.  Some relate only to the ads against which they are made, for instance where an advertiser has not substantiated a claim to the ASA’s satisfaction.  Other rulings can be more widely applied if they relate to something that needs to be applied to all similar ads in future, for example a ruling that outlines how prices should be stated in ads for broadband services.


Of course, no two ads are the same and it’s not always straightforward to apply previous rulings.  A recent example of this is rulings relating to safety in car advertising and the use of in-car technology.  The ASA concluded that an ad for Peugeot, which showed the driver briefly glancing at, and apparently reacting to, a text message on a built-in screen on the dashboard, condoned irresponsible driving.  In our clearance of this ad, safety and responsible driving were of course top of our mind.  Our decision was taken, on the basis that we considered that the functionality was in place in cars on UK roads and the momentary glance at the dashboard screen was not significant enough to render the driving irresponsible. We also considered other ads previously cleared, and ruled on by the ASA.   Specifically, we considered our clearance and the ASA’s not upheld ruling on Citroen, published in August and which also featured the use of in-car technology.  The ASA has taken a different view of the Peugeot ad and we will make sure to consider the specifics of the ruling in our consideration of future ads featuring the use of in-car technology.


For the most part, Clearcast gets its clearances spot on and the vast majority of ads remain on air even in the face of challenges.  In fact, of the 62,500 we considered last year, only a small proportion, 52, were the subject of published upheld rulings from the ASA.


How cars are shown being driven is high on our agenda, especially as technological innovations increase.  We will always take account of the ASA’s rulings in making our future clearance decisions and where relevant rulings do not exist we carefully consider the spirit as well as letter of the rules.

Online Estate Agents

07th November 2017

By Catherine Leyland, Copy Group Manager


Clearcast has recently seen an increase in ads for online-based estate agent/house selling services.  Charges are (generally) lower than a traditional estate agent’s because customers can do much of it themselves (viewings etc).


This type of service has come under the ASA spotlight recently and we’ve seen a few upheld rulings.  This one on HouseSimple Ltd from February offered a chance to ‘sell your home from just £495 upfront’, however, the ASA found that the price was only available to customers who used HouseSimple’s recommended conveyancing and mortgage services.  If customers opted to use their own conveyancers and/or mortgage brokers they were charged an additional fee.  Clearcast considered that, because customers could sell their homes for the featured price, the ad was acceptable; the ASA concluded that customers needed to know that the price applied only in specific circumstances.  The upshot here is that the advertiser must make clear if an advertised price is only applicable to customers when other, related services are also used.


In August, there was another upheld ruling on HouseSimple.  This time, two issues were involved, both of which were upheld.


A website ad had stated that ‘high street estate agent fees are usually worked out as a percentage of the final sale of your property.  This can range from 1.5% to 4% (plus 20% VAT – which often isn’t clearly highlighted as an extra cost) adding up to an average bill of £5,247’ and that online estate agents were ‘much cheaper’.   The ASA decided that the substantiation supplied by the advertiser was not sufficient to support the claimed range of high street agent fees and noted that fees of only 1% plus VAT could be achieved, or lower in some cases.


The TV ad stated that you could get an ‘expert evaluation, professional photos and floor plans – just like a traditional estate agent’ but went on to say that HouseSimple customers additionally save ‘on average £5,000 in fees’.  A super stated that this saving was ‘based on responses of 391 previous HouseSimple customers surveyed’.  The ASA considered that consumers would understand from this that HouseSimple was making a comparison between their online business model and high street estate agents, especially as the web ad said ‘when you sell with us you get even better results than with a high street estate agent and for a much lower fee’.  The ASA noted that it was standard practice for high street estate agents to also provide other services like accompanied viewings whereas HouseSimple didn’t include things like this for their basic fee.


The ASA thought that the services were different enough that a savings claim by itself could mislead.  They considered that the substantiation provided in support of the savings claim was not based on robust survey methodology and considered that the savings claim was likely to mislead in the absence of qualification about the basis for it.


In October, there was an upheld complaint on the house buying service Purplebricks.  Complainants felt that ads stating ‘commisery [sic]: the misery you feel when you spent thousands on commission but got nothing more for your money’ could misleadingly imply that Purplebricks didn’t charge a fee for their service.  The ASA didn’t agree that was the case, saying that the average consumer to whom the ad was directed was likely to be a home owner and be familiar with the selling process, expecting estate agents to charge for their services.  So this first point was not upheld, but a second point by the complaint was.  The second point challenged whether the comparison between Purplebricks fee and the commission charged by other estate agents was misleading.


The ASA agreed that consumers would understand from an onscreen qualification in the ad (‘Saving based on Purplebricks flat fee vs using a High Street estate agent’) that a flat fee was charged. However it didn’t think viewers would necessarily understand that the fee was payable regardless of sale, as flat fees were relatively new to the market, and upheld this point. Clearcast now requires Purplebricks (and any similar services) to state that the flat fee is always payable in their supers.


This is a market which is still fairly new and evolving.  If you are submitting a script for this type of house selling service to Clearcast, please send us full details of how it works. This market is evolving and whilst there may be similar general principles between online agents not all of these services are the same.


Having the right information up front will put us in a position to offer the best advice in relation to the BCAP Code and in light of previous rulings.


10 UK & International ad reg pointers for 2018

02nd November 2017

Last week our Business Affairs team held an industry briefing event on developments in UK and International ad regulation.


Our Head of Copy Clearance Niamh McGuinness shared her UK knowledge and Business Affairs Manager Danny Turner brought us up to speed on international developments. Below are our top 10 takeaway points from the session to help you prepare for your 2018 campaigns and beyond.


UK Developments


1. Ads for foods High in Fat Salt or Sugar (HFSS) remains a hot topic and there are constant calls to restrict ads to post 21:00. Further restrictions on advertising were expected following the Government obesity strategy in 2015 but these did not materialise. Instead the Government introduced a sugar tax and asked for an increase in public health messages about healthy eating.


2. New guidance is on the way to accompany current gambling rules and is likely to suggest change in tone to some ads and removal of calls to action like “Bet now”. There’s been no indication that advertising causes problem gambling.


3. There will be a change in how the speed of broadband services can be advertised. The 10% rule will go because such a large proportion of customers don’t achieve it. The likely change will mean advertisers can refer to speed customers can achieve at peak times.


4. Guidance on on-screen text is being reviewed and changes are due next year.


5. There is a new rule coming in 2018 for sexualisation of under 18s: Ads should not portray anyone who’s under/seems to be under 18 in a sexual way.



International Developments


6. Belgium has a draft regulation in place meaning there could be a ban on gambling ads around Sport & Kids TV.


7. Germany is looking into a possible ban on food advertising directed at kids.


8. France is introducing a new code on the “Portrayal of Human Beings” in advertising. It will address issues relating to dignity, decency, stereotypes, ethnic or religious references, submission, addiction, violence, image and attributes of a person.


9. In Poland there is a ban on alcohol ads accept for beer, but there is a further call to make beer ads post 11pm only.


10. The Netherlands will be releasing a new code for cosmetics treatment performed by doctors & infant formula, taking their number of codes to 22.






ITV moving to HD-only Commercial Delivery

01st November 2017

ITV has announced that it will move to HD-only delivery of commercial copy from Monday, 8th January 2018.


There is no requirement from ITV for material to be re-supplied in HD. They  will continue to transmit any SD commercials that they received prior to that date as they do now, with the SD version being upscaled on their HD channels .


Where agencies wish to resupply ads to ITV in native HD they will have to re-clock the HD version, re-submit the new clock number to Clearcast and instruct ITV Commercial Operations to run the new copy in order for the HD version to run.


Where Clearcast is asked to clear an HD commercial that has previously been cleared as an SD version with a different clock, we will levy a £250 (exc. VAT) charge for the additional clock. We charge for this service because the additional work increases our clearance times to the detriment of the industry as a whole. Note that we charge the same fee where differently clocked HD and SD versions of the same ad are simultaneously submitted for clearance.


You can take a look at ITV’s copy delivery details here.

They also have comprehensive FAQs here .