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ASA x TikTok

Find out about our collaboration with TikTok, in our latest effort to help people understand the ad rules, and have more impact online.

ASA x TikTok

See the TikTok’s on the ASA’s TikTok page.

We’ve partnered with TikTok and nine content creators, in a new initiative to help raise awareness of the ad rules and help creators and influencers stick to them.

We gave each creator a topic, such as misleadingness, food, or body image, and some guidance on what the ad rules say, then asked them to put together a TikTok video. The results are amazing.

Watch now, on TikTok.

But there’s more to the ad rules than can be fit into a 30 second video. This page offers a range of resources on each of the nine topics covered. These are:

  • Misleadingness
  • Recognition of ads
  • Body Image
  • Harmful/dangerous behaviour
  • Promotions
  • Price
  • Remit
  • Food
  • Prescription-only Medicines

At the very top of the page, click on the topic you want to find out about, or scroll down to see them all.

Misleadingness

One of the most fundamental principles of the ad rules is that advertising mustn’t mislead people. You can’t lie about a product or service in order to make it more appealing and generate more sales. If you make a claim in your ads, you must have evidence to back that claim up - otherwise we’re likely to conclude that your ad is misleading.

Keeping your ads honest and truthful makes sure your customers are informed, and it helps build trust for your products and your brand.

To find out more about how to avoid misleading your customers, check out these resources:

Recognition of advertising

The rules say that every bit of advertising should be obviously identifiable as an ad. You can’t mislead people into thinking that something is just your opinion, when in fact you’re advertising a product or service. This can be easy for media like television or radio, which have clear ‘ad breaks’, but it’s not always to clear with other media, particularly online.

Each year we deal with thousands of complaints and reports of ads not being clearly identifiable, most often on social media. If in doubt, use a simple label either on your video, in your title, or at the start of your caption, such as ‘AD’ or #ad.

Read more about making your ads easily identifiable:

Body image

The rules state that all ads need to be socially responsible. Ads can break the rules if they portray particular body types in an irresponsible manner, imply people can only be happy if they look a certain way, or present an unhealthy body image as aspirational. These rules don’t prevent ads from including models with particular body types, but they do apply to advertisers’ creative decisions such as the choice of pose, clothing, make-up and lighting, if these creative choices result in the ads conveying a socially irresponsible message.

Particularly in media where young people make up a high proportion of the audience, it’s important to be responsible in your messaging, and to avoid contributing to harmful social pressures or playing on viewers’ insecurities.

Read more on this topic:

Harmful behaviours

Ads should never encourage or glamorise dangerous behaviours. Whether it’s incorrect use of fireworks, consuming alcohol while doing risky activities, or simply the latest social media ‘challenge’, advertisers need to make sure they’re never encouraging people to do things that could cause them harm.

Most advertisers stick to this principle, but we’ve seen an increasing number of complaints from people about ads which glorify stunts or ‘challenges’ that are inherently dangerous. If you’re asked to do something risky to advertise a product, steer clear.

Here are some more resources to help you:

Promotions

The rules on promotional marketing cover everything from instant wins, prize draws and competitions to discounts and offers like ‘buy one get one free’. If a marketing campaign encourages people to engage with the brand by offering them a temporary added benefit, it’s also likely to count as a promotion.

The rules in Section 8 of the Code apply to all promotions. These rules contain important requirements like the need to state all ‘significant conditions’ in every ad for the promotion, but they also include detailed requirements on how promotions should be run.

Whoever runs the promotion is held responsible for every aspect of the promotion, so it’s important to be aware of all these requirements. The following resources cover them in detail:

Pricing

We’re not here to tell you how to price your goods or services, but the ad rules do have some things to say about how you then present your prices. As a general rule, the price you show should be the price a customer will pay at checkout, including any fees or taxes are applicable. You also shouldn’t show a ‘premium’ item in your ad but give the price for a basic option, as this is likely to be misleading.

What’s best for your customers is often what’s best for your business, and being clear and upfront about what a customer will pay for your goods or services helps them make informed choices, and minimises the chances that the ASA will be asked to look into your price claims.

To find out more about the rules for pricing, check out these resources:

Remit

The ASA regulates online advertising, but not all online content counts as advertising. It’s important to understand what types of online content count as advertising, since this affects whether they need to follow the rules in the CAP Code. If it’s regulated by the ASA, it’s in the ASA’s “remit”. Some online ads are outside the ASA’s remit because they are regulated by public bodies in other countries.

On social media, one of the most common types of ad is the ‘advertorial’, where a creator has received some form of gift or payment from a brand, and in return is required to publicise the brand in a particular way. Another common type of ad is an ‘affiliate’ ad, where a creator has signed up to an affiliate scheme so that they are paid every time a consumer clicks a trackable link or uses a trackable discount code. Though these are different types of ads, they both still count as ads, and the same rules apply to them.

Food

The food rules apply to all edible products that aren’t officially licensed as medicines, and any drinks that aren’t alcoholic.

These rules place restrictions on the ‘health claims’ and ‘nutrition claims’ that advertisers can make about their products. Health claims are any claims about the relationship between a food and human health - for example, that a food product aids muscle development, or even just that it’s “good for you”. Nutrition claims are any claims about the nutritional content of a food, for example that the food is "high in Vitamin C".

The rules also place targeting restrictions on ads for foods which are high in fats, salt or sugars (HFSS), to prevent them being directed at children. It’s advertisers’ responsibility to work out whether the products they are advertising count as ‘HFSS’.

To help creators and advertisers navigate these rules, take a look at the following pieces of guidance:

Prescription-only Medicines

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Testing the banner and a link - www.asa.org.uk/speedclaims/