Tag Archives: Clearcast


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.

How to make your ads clear

18th September 2019

Niamh McGuinness, Head of Copy Clearance

This article was originally published in Campaign Magazine on 11th September 2019

Clearcast services underpin UK TV advertising but the organisation can be something of a mystery to people who don’t work with it often. Last year Clearcast celebrated its 10th anniversary. In that time, its processes, systems and services have advanced and made it the integral pillar of the advertising community it is today.

In a nutshell, what does Clearcast do?
Clearcast exists to make it easier to get ads to air. As well as clearing TV ads, we advise on BVoD ads and run a training programme. We commission CARIA, which handles media bookings and copy instructions for TV and BVoD in the UK and Eire, and our Attribution metadata underpins post-campaign analysis. We can help with international clearances, via our TV Admin service, and can edit ads to ensure they meet the supers and flashing rules.

Why is Clearcast still needed?
By law, TV broadcasters must pre-clear ads, and a Clearcast clearance gets an ad on most UK channels. If our expert team didn’t exist, agencies would have to clear an ad separately with every broadcaster carrying it. With trust in advertising at an all-time low, Clearcast helps protect the reputation of broadcasters and advertisers. The main broadcasters also get our advice for BVoD so viewers can have confidence in the ads on their catch-up services. In some ways other video services are playing catch-up: according to the ASA, complaints about online ads outnumbered cases related to TV ads by almost three to one in 2018.

How is Clearcast responding to today’s increased pace?
What we do takes time, but last year we improved our turnaround time KPI for scripts from four days to three (85% of script submissions responded to within three days); for TVCs it’s 95% in two days. We’re smashing this: from January-July we responded to 94% of scripts within three days and 99% of TVCs in two. Submissions that have to go to consultants, of course, take longer.

We recently launched a Fast Track service for clients on tight deadlines. This guarantees turnaround within a day for a small fee. Feedback has been very positive.

We are increasingly working with agencies at an earlier stage. Our Copy Development service is useful for ads breaking new ground or in heavily regulated categories. We also offer On-Set Guidance so agencies can get our advice as they’re filming.

What are you proudest about at Clearcast?
We’re much more responsive now. Our latest agency satisfaction survey shows that 78% of respondents feel Clearcast serves agencies well or very well, with 69% rating turnaround times excellent or good. The latter measure has doubled the equivalent figure from 10 years ago. We’re also proud to have been classed as Outstanding by Best Companies based on staff feedback.

What does the future hold?
There will only be more ads, in a wider variety of formats, with some created on the fly or from ‘building blocks’. That presents challenges, but I’m confident Clearcast will continue to adapt and meet them. 

Top five tips for speedier ad-clearing

1. Book yourself on a Clearcast training course – the better you understand how and why Clearcast works the way it does, the more time you’ll save.

2. Identify any claims in your ad script and submit any substantiation you have for them with the first version of your script. If we’ve previously approved a claim you’re making again in a new ad, let us know the clock number of the previous ad.

3. Where claims are complex or your creative may otherwise fall foul of the rules, use our copy development service to help shape your concepts and creative and nip problems in the bud. 

4. Allow enough time for your ad’s clearance – it is an integral part of the ad production process.

5. If you are working to a particularly tight timescale, consider making use of Clearcast’s new Fast Track clearance service.

Picture courtesy of Campaign; photographer Dan Wooller