August Deadlines 2019

23rd May 2019

We’ve now been given the copy instruction, delivery and approval timetable which has been agreed by ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Turner Broadcasting for the 2019 August Bank Holiday.

** Bank Holiday

VOD: Copy, rotations & tags required for activation between 26th – 28th August must be delivered by 16th August.

Normal Delivery:

Copy Instructions should be supplied at least 2 clear working days before transmission.

Copy should be delivered at least 2 clear working days before transmission to avoid a late delivery.

Copy Received dates are to avoid late copy surcharges being applied by some broadcasters.

Agencies with clients for whom the indicated deadlines are impractical should contact individual broadcasters directly to agree their requirements.

PRS – Making sure the musicians get paid

13th May 2019

Andrew Hale, Service Delivery Manager at PRS

This guest piece was originally published in our Spring 2017 newsletter but is as important now as it was then.

Choosing the right music for your advert is important. Music makes an emotional impact upon people, and a well-crafted song can stick in the listener’s mind for life, making it an extremely powerful marketing tool. Think of those touching John Lewis Christmas adverts – setting those to heavy metal just wouldn’t have the same effect, no matter how cute the actors and animals were!

Getting it right can be a daunting task. Do you go for a well-known song or some classical music? What about something by an up and coming artist, or even commissioning a jingle? One thing is clear: the right music boosts an ad and can build a positive association to a brand – that’s gold dust for marketers! Whichever route you choose, surely the people who create that music deserve to be compensated correctly for it?

PRS for Music represents the rights of over 118,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK. As a membership organisation we ensure creators are paid whenever their music is played, performed or reproduced. In a nutshell we use the licence fee paid to us by the broadcasters to make quarterly distributions to our members when their music is used. However we can only do this accurately if we have the correct reporting.

We receive a daily feed of new commercials from Clearcast, and transmission details of these commercials from broadcasters. The two sets of data are then linked using the clock number.

Because of the huge volumes of data, PRS has to trust that the information we are being sent is correct. At the moment we spot check a handful of adverts on CopyCentral for quality control purposes – making sure all the necessary information has been completed correctly, and sometimes listening to the advert in question to confirm the reporting. However we can’t do this for all 36,000 separate commercials.

We have recently introduced a more automated quality tool for the programme reporting we receive from TV and Radio stations which means we have increased our quality control capabilities. We will be rolling this out to more of our workstreams, including commercials, in the near future. Getting the right data in is essential to making accurate and efficient distributions, and there are a few bits of key information that PRS needs to ensure this happens:  

Filling out forms is no-one’s idea of fun, but when those forms are essential to make sure someone receives a payment – someone who has helped make your creation successful – then it’s important to get it right. By taking care to input the right data into CopyCentral you are helping PRS for Music send accurate royalties to the right people, and the composers can afford to keep on making beautiful music to help you sell your brands.   

Case Study: Bodyform Viva La Vulva

10th May 2019

A case study about how using Copy Development can help advertisers break taboos and push the boundaries of what is considered too offensive for broadcast.

The Campaign

AMVBBDO contacted our Copy Development Manager, Seb Lynch, to talk about their new ground-breaking campaign for Bodyform. Their intention was to make a TV ad which showed different representations of vulvas singing along to an upbeat song, to positively reinforce the idea that there is no such thing as a perfect vulva. This unprecedented creative was to be used to promote their new Pure Sensitive range of sanitary products. There was clearly good reason for a campaign for this type of product to focus on that part of the female anatomy, the question was whether in doing so the campaign would be unacceptably offensive.

Vulvic Variations

AMV provided a deck containing many examples of what the agency wanted to show. There were things from nature that looked like vulvas, like rock formations and oysters. Then there were man-made things that looked like vulvas, like fortune cookies and button holes. Then finally there were things that had been made to look like vulvas, like cupcakes and embroidery. Some examples were quite abstract and vague, and some were more realistic.

Initial Feedback

Seb gave his thoughts on what images would be acceptable with a timing restriction and what images were not likely to be acceptable, gave advice on how to organise the deck and then presented it to colleagues in the daily Policy and Copy Meeting. It was agreed that most of the images were likely to be acceptable for broadcast after 9pm, but they also said that the materials would need to be shared with the Copy Committee for its final approval. This group is made up of representatives of the broadcasters on Clearcast’s board, plus the IPA and ISBA, and Clearcast involve the Copy Committee in the decision-making process when copy is particularly contentious.

Copy Committee Parts 1 and 2

AMV’s written argument in defence of their creative concept was based on their intention to make women feel proud of their bodies. Seb helped them to refine their argument to ensure the key concerns were addressed and then presented their case. The Copy Committee concluded the ad could be approved for post 9pm transmission. A few weeks later AMV asked Seb to consider a new scene in which an animated period blood stain would sing along to the soundtrack. Bodyform had already broken the taboo of showing blood in their 2017 Blood Normal campaign, but this creative idea took it a step further, so Seb went back to Copy Committee with a new written defence which drew heavily from the positive reactions to the Blood Normal ads. The agency made clear the ad was intended for targeted use on broadcaster VoD and the Committee was comfortable to approve the new scene on this basis.


AMV sent Seb their final edits which contained a number of vulvic representations that had not been considered by Copy Committee. Given these new scenes were a bit more realistic than the ones seen previously it was again decided the broadcasters should be given the final decision on their acceptability. This time the materials were emailed to the Committee, again with a defence, which emphasised the positive reason to the Viva La Vulva campaign that had already gone live in Scandinavia. The Committee gave Clearcast the green-light to approve the edits and a few days later they were live on VoD.

No Offence

Why did Clearcast approve material that some people may consider unsuitable for advertising? The explanation is in the wording of the rules. The BCAP code talks about “serious and widespread offence”. You can argue that some people might consider the images distasteful or even offensive, but it’s unlikely that offence would be considered serious or whether it would be felt by a wide number of people. It also helps that it has an appropriate scheduling restriction so that it targets people less likely to be offended. The CAP code, which is the regulation that BVoD falls under, expands on how the offence rule should be applied. It says, “Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule”, so while Clearcast acknowledge the ads may be distasteful to some and may be complained about, we’re confident the ASA won’t uphold the complaints. This is always the basis upon which we clear copy. By using Copy Development Bodyform were able to get as close as possible to the border between what’s acceptable and what’s not, and in doing so made a truly memorable Gold and Titanium Cannes Lion winning campaign.


As expected, once the campaign went live, a number of complaints were made that one of the ads was offensive, but the ASA chose not to launch a formal investigation into these complaints. It acknowledged that while the images might be challenging and distasteful to some people, the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. The ASA considered this because it was shown during programming designed for adults, it was light-hearted, it wasn’t gratuitous and it was appropriate in the context of an ad for sanitary products.


“Having a challenging subject matter in relation to Copy Clearance, we engaged Seb as early as possible to ensure he was taken on the journey with us. Seb was extremely helpful the whole way through, and also extremely understanding of the need to progress this subject. Without him, we definitely couldn’t have got such a momentous move forwards (period blood on TV!)” – Phoebe Swan, Senior Account Manager, AMV BBDO

To find out more about our Copy Development service click here