Sshhh, it’s taboo!

18th October 2019

Clearcast on Festival of Marketing panel, discussing taboo products

Seb Lynch, Copy Development Manager

A major part of my role is to help agencies and their clients whose products or services are in complex or contentious areas, by working carefully through their copy and creative early on and helping to develop their ad into a version acceptable for TV .

I was invited to speak on a panel at last week’s Festival of Marketing called ‘Marketing the Unmarketable: Creating appropriate content for taboo products’. It was great to have the opportunity to speak to a room full of marketeers alongside representatives from TheDrug.Store, an online CBD retailer; LELO, an intimate lifestyle brand; and Essity, who own the feminine care brand Bodyform.

The other panellists discussed the challenges they face in trying to advertise their products across different platforms and in different parts of the world. I explained that the most challenging rules for advertising taboo products on TV in the UK are those that say ads should not be socially irresponsible or cause serious or widespread offence.

Naturally the panel talked about how keen they are for the regulations to relax and I suggested societal boundaries can move and what people consider offensive can change, so over time we become more open to things that might once have been too taboo for TV, like period blood or sex toys for example.

I explained Clearcast’s open-door policy to advertisers and agencies regardless of what product is being advertised or what kind of creative execution is proposed. We can’t promise to approve every taboo-busting campaign that comes along (a success story to refer to here is Bodyform’s multi-award winning Viva La Vulva campaign), but our Copy Development service gives people the chance to discuss creative with us very early and then get our help in shaping ads to ensure they get broadcast. This is a key part of our remit to help get ads to air.

As Marina Poulopati, Essity’s Global Marketing and Communications Director put it during the panel discussion, whilst talking about her experience of working with us on the Viva La Vulva campaign: “It’s important to look to broadcast authorities like Clearcast and work with them as partners.”

Our Copy Development service offers concept advice and claims assessment, face-to-face sessions, edit review and anything else you might need whilst developing your copy. Click here to find out more or email

Clearcast Agency Survey Results

14th October 2019

In July we undertook our 8th Agency Survey. Many thanks to the 366 of you that took the trouble to respond; as promised we’re feeding back the headlines of what you told us.

It’s worth saying that there was nothing particularly special about the fieldwork period that would skew results overall, although year on year the pace of industry change has continued to speed up. We know that considerations like agencies having to do more with less resource and the pressure to deliver to tighter timelines affect expectations of Clearcast.

In measurable terms, we’re doing fantastically well now with record turnaround times. In the first nine months of the year we turned around 94.6% of scripts in 3 days (compared with our Service Level target of 85%) and 98.3% of TVCs in 2 days (target: 95%).

So now over to the survey results. The benchmark to compare against was our 2018 survey results which were our best ever. These followed the speeding up of our script turnaround target from 85% in 4 days to the same percentage in 3 days. Overall, the 2019 results were at very similar levels to 2018 with some small declines in key measures.

In terms of headline figures:

  • 46% of you said we are doing better than last year (13% a lot better, 33% a bit better) with 48% saying about the same so only 6% said we were doing worse. Reassuringly, only 1% said a lot worse.
  • 77% of respondents said their experience of working with us was good or excellent which is on a par with last year. The proportion rating their experience of us as excellent rose to 28% from 26%. Way back in 2009 the equivalent good/excellent figure was just 48% so the 2019 results represent a 60% improvement on where we started!
  • 77% of you also said that Clearcast serves agencies very well or quite well. This is a slight decline on last time (80%) but again, the proportion saying we serve agencies very well rose (to 37% from 35%). Given the experience of working with us score has held firm, the year on year difference here is likely to reflect changing expectations on Clearcast given market changes. It’ll be interesting to see how our Fast Track service (launched June 2019) affects this score next time round.
  • Our turnaround times were rated excellent or good by 69% of you. That is a small (but not statistically significant) decrease on the 70% score we achieved last year. In practice we’re delivering near record turnaround times now, but we understand that agency expectations continue to increase. Fast Track is already helping many agencies (we’ve recently passed the 100 mark!)!) deliver the turnaround times that their clients need. It’s worth saying that it’s impossible to deliver consistent turnaround times for every submission because of varying complexity and the need for those with technical claims to go to specialist consultants; if you’re including technical claims you must allow additional time for this.
  • Our execs have dedicated agency accounts which means that when they are away the work needs to be covered. 59% of you said you were very or quite happy with cover when your contact is away. This is down slightly on the 62% last time, but nearly double the score we got for the same question in 2009. This shows that improvements we have made to the system since then have made a real difference. Cover is something we’re continually trying to improve and we know how frustrating it can be if your exec is away and you don’t know what’s happening with your submission. Cover is a complex system to manage as who is covering on a given day will depend on who is not in the office. To make things easier for you, you can email and find out who will be covering your work on any given day. We’re sometimes asked why we can’t proactively email CopyCentral users when contacts are away with the cover contact but with over 10,000 users and cover contacts that may change daily that wouldn’t be practical.
  • Clearcast has 5 values. Our strongest are perceived to be Respect, being Expert and being Just and Fair all with over 75% agreement that we do them well or very well. Our weakest is perceived as being Solutions Orientated (63% well or very well) and Consistent (68%). Consistency was the value that had the greatest proportion saying we didn’t deliver very well (21% said not very well or not at all well). Feedback tells us that consistency covers consistency between people in the team, consistency across a single submission clearance and consistency with previous decisions. On the last point, as no two ads are the same and nuances can make a difference (for example to timing restrictions), what may seem to be an inconsistency may not be. Please give us any precedents that you think are relevant when you make a submission or feel we’re being inconsistent and we will always consider these.

As you can see from the long term-trends in the data, we do take your feedback seriously and work to improve where we can. We always take themes from the survey to work on and over the next year we’ll be looking at cover and consistency.

Thanks again for taking the time to feed back.

Chris Mundy


09th October 2019

It’s just over a month to go until one of the biggest sales events of the year arrives. Below, our Senior Copy Exec Nicola Wynter gives us her top 6 tips for getting  those Black Friday TV ads right first time.

This is a revision of a 2018 blog called ‘Black Friday ads- six watch outs’. All the advice is still relevant and in line with the BCAP code guidance. Here they are:

  • As with any sale or offer we will need you to upload the ad script with the retail substantiation form filled out by the advertiser
  • Any products featured within the advert should be included in the event
  • If the sale is an existing one, you can’t compile the ad calling it a Black Friday Sale
  • Most Black Friday promotions are longer than just one day, and that isn’t a problem but the ad should always make this clear by stating the start and end date with a super. There should be no implication the sale is just on for one day e.g. with audio stating ‘Only on Black Friday’ as this would contradict the start and end dates stated in the super
  • If the promotion doesn’t include discounted items, but instead features offers like “free installation” then you can’t call it a sale but you can call it an event
  • If the event doesn’t have an end date as the products are on offer until they are no longer in stock, you will need the super “while stock lasts” or similar

If you have any questions about your Black Friday ads please talk to your Clearcast Copy Exec.

Pre-book: 2020 Agency Training

08th October 2019

We’re now sold-out across all 2019 Agency Training Courses!

From today we’re taking reserve bookings for 2x Agency courses for next year on Wednesday 26th February and Wednesday 25th March in London. We’ll officially launch the 2020 calendar in January. 

Our interactive Agency Certificate is designed for advertising agencies of all types. The course provides an insight into all aspects of the TV ad clearance process and is designed to get your ads to air and keep them there.

To reserve your place in 2020, email us today (with date/location preference) –

See you in the new year.

Christmas Deadlines 2019

04th October 2019

We now have the copy instruction, delivery and approval timetable which has been agreed by ITV, Sky Media, Channel 4 & Turner Broadcasting for the 2019 Christmas Period.

* Clearcast Closed

** Bank Holiday

Normal Delivery: Copy Instructions and copy should be delivered and approved at least 2 clear working days before transmission to avoid a late surcharge.

VoD Campaigns: Copy, rotations, tracking tags and changes must be with stations by 16th December to cover up to and including 3rd January 2020.

Agencies with clients for whom the indicated deadlines are impractical should contact individual broadcaster sales representatives directly to agree their requirements (e.g. Newspapers).

Check out Clearcast’s opening times over Christmas/New Year 2019 here.

CopyCentral Upgrade October 2019

01st October 2019

Our online submissions system CopyCentral will be unavailable this weekend while we carry out an upgrade.

The system will be down from 7pm on Friday 4th October until approx 5pm on Sunday 6th.

Thank you for your patience.