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.