By Victoria Adomako & Julie Swift – Copy Group Executives
Our consultants are an exceptionally hard-working group of professionals who we often rely on during the Copy Clearance process. Their expertise is diverse and spans across many areas like medicine, nutrition, cosmetics, Vacuum Cleaners and more – our consultants are an invaluable part of our team. Take a look at the areas that are covered and the consultants who look at your substantiation here.
Why might you need a consultant?
Alongside making our own assessments on claims within the submissions we receive; we sometimes refer support documentation to our consultants for submissions that require specialist assessment. The role of our consultants is to assess evidence and advise us on the extent to which claims are supported.
Rest assured our consultant reviews take place in confidence; our consultants are aware that the data they see is commercially sensitive. We also ensure all issues relating to confidentiality and conflict of interest have been addressed. Many of our consultants have experience with advertising companies so they understand the creative process and requirements for claim support.
The process of using a consultant
Your Clearcast contact will advise you if your submission requires a consultant’s review. Our consultants aim to review submissions as quickly as they can, but the time frame we advise is up to one week for their feedback and is something you’ll need to factor into the clearance process.
Alongside our day to day work with our consultants, we also offer a separate paid for service allowing advertisers to meet consultants to discuss ongoing or future submissions. If you would like to arrange a meeting just speak to your Clearcast contact or email us here.
The importance of substantiating claims
To help ease the clearance process, we recommend advertisers use our Claim Support Model form, which you can find along with the guidelines for use, here. Consultants often require test data to support claims, so it’s vital to ensure the data is clear, precise and relevant to specific claims. If you have had similar claims approved before, make sure you include any clock numbers for past ads in your submission. Consultants assess evidence with several questions in mind, including;
- Has the correct information/data been provided?
- Has the methodology to collect the data been validated?
- Does the data and/or methodology agree with current science?
- Does the data support the claim?
- Will the data withstand challenge by other experts?
The importance of substantiating health claims through the Pandemic
In 2020, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, we saw a rise in products directly referring to the virus. The ads varied in claims; some claimed to provide protection from virus transmission or to provide protection against the virus with increased immunity. Advertisers are advised to follow HSE and MHRA guidance regarding the regulatory status of equipment being used to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Topical products, such as hand sanitisers are not medicines and should not make any claims about treating or preventing specific diseases. So, while claims that they can kill viruses may be acceptable, references to specific pathogens such as Covid-19 or MRSA are not.
Advertisers promoting non-medical face coverings cannot suggest they protect the wearer against airborne infections, such as Covid-19.
Claims that a food supplement can “boost the immune system” and therefore help prevent or treat Covid-19 should be avoided. General health claims must be authorised by the Great Britain Nutrition And Health Claims register.
Top four tips when using a consultant
Time – Get your submission and evidence over early; scripts requiring a consultant’s view take longer than the standard script process. Our Fast Track service can’t be used for submissions that need a consultant’s view.
Clear substantiation – Ensure the evidence is clear and relevant. Demonstrate the relevance of methods used to collect the data.
Claim Support Model – This helps to identify where the consultant can find substantiation to support each claim.
Packshot (a still or moving image of a product)– include substantiation for packshot claims.
It’s worth bearing in mind we have a Copy Development service that can help shape your concepts and creative ideas and claims, whilst keeping within the BCAP Code. Copy Development is particularly useful when looking at complex areas, such as those that require a consultant’s view. For more information, any questions or to set up a meeting, email here.
If you have any questions about this blog or Clearcast in general, please email us here.