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New guidance toolkit on advertising standards for small businesses

Sponsored feature | Gillian Harding, senior associate, Woodfines Solicitors

Gillian Harding, of Woodfines
Gillian Harding, of Woodfines

Do you know your obligations in relation to advertising standards?

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) recently issued a press release in which it said that in 2022, around 80 per cent of ads that it had amended or withdrawn related to organic (non-paid-for) ads on social media from small businesses and sole traders.

In response to this, the ASA has now published a guidance toolkit, specifically aimed at small businesses to help them comply with advertising standards law.

The basic rules of advertising, as set out by the ASA in its guidance are:

-No misleading ads. Ads must not leave out important information that might affect a customer’s decision to buy from you, use your services or request more information.

- You must have evidence to back up any claims you make in your ads. As the ASA says: ‘If you can’t prove it, you probably shouldn’t say it.’

- Advertised prices must be accurate, relate to the specific product shown and include other costs and taxes such as VAT. Any additional charges like delivery charges need to be made clear.

- You must be able to prove that any testimonials are genuine, have the permission of the people who gave them to use them in your marketing and have their contact details.

- Free offers must be truly free, subject only to reasonable delivery charges.

- If you are running a promotion or other offer, the end date must be specified, along with any other specific conditions (eg a minimum spend before a discount kicks in).

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The ASA’s new toolkit is available at asa.org.uk/advice-and-resources/advice-for-businesses.html and it provides links to additional information on all the above rules.

The ASA rules apply whoever you sell to, whether that is consumers or businesses. It is important to get your ads right on your social media accounts, as well as in paid-for advertising, and ASA’s new toolkit is a welcome set of information for small businesses to help them to ensure their ads are compliant.

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