UK Advertising Codes

The UK's CAP Advertising Codes contain wide-ranging rules designed to make sure that advertising (including advertising online) does not mislead, harm or offend. Ads must also be socially responsible and written in line with the principles of fair competition. These broad principles apply regardless of the product being advertised.

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) write and support the UK Advertising Codes, which the Advertising Standards Authority administers. CAP also offers the industry authoritative advice and guidance on how to create campaigns that comply with the rules.The Advertising Codes contain specific rules for certain products and marketing techniques. These include rules for alcoholic drinks, health and beauty claims, children, medicines, financial products, environmental claims, gambling, direct marketing and prize promotions. These rules add an extra layer of consumer protection on top of consumer protection law and aim to make sure that UK advertising is responsible.

The Advertising Standards Authority administers the rules in the spirit as well as the letter, making it almost impossible for advertisers to find loopholes or ‘get off on a technicality’. This common sense approach takes into account the nature of the product being advertised, the media used, and the audience being targeted.

Two sets of Advertising Codes

There are two sets of Advertising Codes

  • The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code)
  • BCAP Code for Broadcasting

BCAP Code (Broadcasting)

Advertising CodesThis first edition of the BCAP Code comes into force on 1 September 2010. It replaces the four earlier separate BCAP Codes for broadcast advertising.

This Code applies to all advertisements (including teleshopping, content on self-promotional television channels, television text and interactive television advertisements) and programme sponsorship credits on radio and television services licensed by Ofcom.

Further information