09th December 2019

As Christmas 2019 is fast approaching we take a look back at a case study from 2018 which highlights Copy Development’s uniqueness and usefulness when it comes to those tricky campaigns.

A case study about the M&S Food 2018 Christmas TV campaign which used different parts of the Copy Development service at different stages of the production.

The Meeting

For their 2018 Christmas campaign M&S Food decided to build a campaign around real people giving real reactions to the delicious Christmas food on offer at M&S. Grey and M&S arranged a meeting with Seb, our Copy Development Manager, to discuss this idea and to find out what would be the main issues with shooting unscripted material in an ad for food and drink.

From a regulatory point of view filming testimonials, as opposed to filming a pre-approved script, is inherently riskier because you’re not in control of what people are going to say. Grey wrote some scripts which gave a flavour of the things they were hoping their contributors would say. Seb highlighted the main watch-outs like condoning excessive consumption of food, condoning poor nutritional habits and implying immoderate booze drinking. Despite the fact that all these things are part and parcel of Christmas for lots of people they still mustn’t be included in ads.

Seb explained that as with written copy, statements made as part of testimonials are subject to the rules of the BCAP code, so using the rationale that it’s just the person’s opinion doesn’t allow you to make superiority claims for example. Seb also gave guidance on how nuances in the way things are phrased can affect clearance. For example, a person saying “they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had” is okay to clear because it’s a subjective opinion, whereas saying “M&S mince pies are the best” is an objective statement of superiority that would need substantiation.

On-Set Guidance

Knowing the risks of shooting unscripted material, Grey asked Seb to come to set to give advice. On-set guidance is a part of the Copy Development service used by agencies when they’re shooting unscripted material or when they know the talent deviate from the script by ad-libbing or improvising. So Seb joined the production team on the first two days of the shoot and gave advice and feedback as the filming took place. After each take Seb advised what was likely to be unacceptable so that the production team could brief the people featuring in the ad and so that they knew what footage they should avoid using in their edits. Seb also provided a comprehensive list of flags at the end of each day.

Edit Review

In total, Grey produced a series of 14 individual edits for staggered broadcast in the run-up to Christmas. They asked Seb to join them on three occasions in the edit suite to view their early edits and advise whether they seemed acceptable or whether amends were needed. On each occasion Seb provided feedback that affected the content of the edits, so time was saved in the clearance process by acting on the guidance at this point. When the ads were submitted for clearance they were all approved without any issue.


“Knowing that this campaign could potentially raise challenges in relation to copy clearance, we engaged with Seb and the team early in the process, ensuring we were working together as closely as possible.

It was incredibly helpful having Seb’s guidance at each stage; during script development, on set and also whilst we were editing. Having access to Seb throughout the campaign development not only saved us time, but it meant that we weren’t ever presenting edits to the client which wouldn’t pass the final Clearcast approval.

The agency creative team and client also appreciated Seb’s input, which was always shared in an open and collaborative way.”

Kate Ilott, Business Director, Grey London

If you’re interested in finding out more about our Copy Development service, please click here or email copydevelopment@clearcast.co.uk.

Top Tips for starters

06th December 2019

Advertising is a fast-paced business, both in terms of the work and the staff turnover. We put as much information as we can on our Knowledge Base and in our blogs, to help new starters get on top of all the different aspects of ad clearance, and also have a New Business team dedicated to helping those new to TV. But this article should also help you with the fundamentals.


To set up an account and access CopyCentral for the first time you’ll need to complete our registration and user agreement form, available to download here. Once you’re registered you’ll be allocated to Micky or Pete in the New Business team, who will walk you through your initial clearances and familiarise you with the process.


The standard process of working with Clearcast is essentially in 3 steps, all of which need to be completed on CopyCentral. Even if your ad is already filmed, you must complete step 1.

Step 1 – Script submission 

We’ll review the claims and substantiation of your proposed ad on a script document.

Step 2 – Rough Cut video submission

So we can view the edit to make sure it passes all our checks and see if it needs a scheduling or timing restriction.

Step 3 – TVC video submission

This will be the final clocked version of your ad to go on air. It must have the clock slate and clock number.


The clearance process isn’t a box-ticking exercise; we must look at claims in scripts, implied meanings, the ramifications of the visuals and much more, not to mention the often-complex substantiation supplied by agencies or advertisers. Please allow up to 3 working days for feedback on your script each time you update. Depending on the complexity of your ad, average approval time is 2-3 weeks, which of course can vary either side.  If something is last minute, is the Fast Track Service what you need?


Often the client will need to provide evidence for any claims in their ad in line with the BCAP code. Anything from claiming something is free, to retail discounts, to comparative claims. We have templates here that could help make the process run as smoothly as possible. Of course, as every ad is different, so will the substantiation needs be. We’ll guide you as best we can as to the type of supporting evidence you or your client will need to provide.


If you think some or the majority of your new script is based on something approved by Clearcast before, ask your client for a previous clock number or CopyCentral submission ID. Providing this with your submission at the start helps speed up the clearance process and saves us duplicating work done in the past.


If you know that your media plan includes TV, then you will need to select ‘Linear/ VOD’ type in the detail when creating your submissions. We will review this against the BCAP code.

If your ad is only going out on video on demand services, then please tick ‘VOD only’. This will only be reviewed under the CAP code. It’s always best to check with the broadcasters first and they will confirm with you before you submit to us.

Full channels and services we clear for can be found here.  While we clear for a lot, we don’t clear for all. Please do check to make sure you need to submit to us for clearance.


“We will require subs for this claim” – The advertiser or client will need to provide evidence to support this claim.

“HFSS” – HFSS stands for High in Fat, Salt, or Sugar. Ads for food/drink products which are HFSS cannot be shown in or around children’s programmes, or programmes of particular appeal to under-16s. This can make a big difference to a media plan.

“Flashing test” – Your edits will be automatically checked to determine if they pass the Photosensitive epilepsy flash test.

“Linear” – If your ad is going out on broadcast TV – such as Channel 4.

“VOD”– Non-broadcast video on demand. ITV hub, for example.

“Supers pass/fail” – “Supers” is the term applied to text superimposed onto ads to provide additional information, usually because it is required to be there for legal or regulatory purposes (the “small print” or “legal text”). 

“Ex-kids” or “KB”– Is a scheduling restriction applied to ads that cannot be broadcast during children’s TV programming or during programmes of particular appeal to under-16s. Areas including, but not limited to licensed medicines and films & video games that are certificate 15 or above. Other reasons for Ex Kids (or more stringent restrictions) being applied may be to do with language used, potential harmful emulation of activity in an ad, or scary themes. You can read about scheduling restrictions in our Notes of Guidance and here.


We offer a number of other services that will help with your clearance:

  • Book yourself on a Clearcast training course – the better you understand how and why we work the way we do, the more time you’ll save.
  • Enlist the help of our Copy Development team who can save you time, money and stress by helping you shape your ad concepts, creative ideas and claims, making the clearance process as smooth as possible.
  • Need to run your ad in other countries? Get in touch with our Business Affairs team who can help you with international compliance.
  • Take advantage of our Meet the Consultants sessions; complicated claims can be discussed before a script is received.

Beyond Copy Clearance – 2019 highlights

05th December 2019

If you know Clearcast, you know that we’re here to work with ad agencies and advertisers to get ads to air and keep them there. The core part of this remit is clearing tv ads for broadcast on most UK channels (and in 2018 we considered more than 32,000 scripts and 61,200 films). By extension, we’ve worked hard developing other ad services that benefit the industry. Cue TV Admin, Copy Development, Training and Fast Track, which are just four of the other helpful services we offer. As we come to the end of another fantastic year for these services, we outline their highlights of 2019.

For more information on how these services could benefit you, just click through the header links.

TV Admin – Danny Turner

2019 has been a busy year for TV Admin. On the international front, we’ve managed more than 40 French ad clearances through the French self-regulator ARPP as well as many other international copy advice projects, something we’re in a unique position to do thanks to our EASA membership. In addition, our wide range of contacts across advertisers, agencies and broadcasters means that projects including delivery both home and abroad are being managed more smoothly than ever before.

“The process is very smooth and efficient, from getting the (French) copy advice to then final clearance and obtaining PUB IDs. Truly a weight off our shoulders and definitely worth every penny!” – Farah, Banana Split Productions

Copy Development – Seb Lynch

The On-set Guidance part of the service really took off in 2019 with work for Coral in South-Carolina with Alpha Century and Paddy Power’s “Save our shirt” campaign for VCCP, to name just two. I’m proud of the long list of ads I’ve advised on that were unlikely to get to air without my help, like the Marmite “Hypnosis” campaign for AMV BBDO and the KFC “What the Cluck?” campaign for Mother. And finally, partnering with Bodyform and AMV BBDO to get their crucial, taboo-busting Viva La Vulva campaign to air was a major highlight that I was then able to discuss on a panel called ‘Marketing the Unmarketable: Creating appropriate content for taboo products’ at The Festival of Marketing in October.

“Seb was extremely helpful the whole way through, and also 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 at AMV BBDO for Viva La Vulva

Training – Michael Haydon

My main highlight of 2019 has been significantly changing up the courses we offer. After all, if you stand still you get left behind! We’ve added tons of new content to our London courses, introduced new ones and increased our Training footprint by going on-the-road whenever possible. This year we’ve taken our CPD Courses to Belfast, New York and Manchester. It’s always fascinating listening to the attendee debates and picking up the nuances between region/country. We’re currently putting together an eclectic mix of courses for 2020 based in and out of London. So watch this space…or even better, follow our new Training Twitter account for upcoming course announcements and more.

“Great job! Truly superb presentation and exceptional delivery!” Michael, Consultant at Lee and Steel LLC (NYC Training June 2019)

Fast Track – Matthew Stevens

Clearcast launched Fast Track in 2019. Agencies now have the option when submitting a piece of work to us to Fast Track it for a fee. If they take up this option then they are guaranteed to receive feedback within 1 working day. Since the service began in June it has been a tremendous success with more than 100 agencies using it in the first five months of operation. So 2019 has been very challenging and rewarding for me, setting up an entirely new Clearcast service from scratch and seeing it thrive – long may it continue!

“Fast Track has been a great addition to Clearcast’s services. The turnaround of submissions within 24 hours has been beneficial where we’ve had tight deadlines. I would highly recommend it to others.” – Fraser at Hogarth London