When it comes to great radio ads, you can do it by the rules or…
Nobody really LIKES rules that constrain creativity but the reality is every advertising market has rules of one sort or another.
NZ is lucky that with a well developed self-regulatory system we at least get to write and police our own rules through the Advertising Standards Authority.
If you find it frustrating occasionally, pause to think about Australia where a government department adjudicates on honesty in advertising; with the UK, where all broadcast advertisements are controlled by the government regulator; or even the US with massive law suits that eventuate when one advertiser thinks they have been unfairly attacked by another!
There may be rules – but at least they are OUR rules.
The Codes of Advertising Practice are designed to ensure all advertisements comply with relevant laws, are not misleading, non-offensive (to the listening community as a whole – not those of minority views) and socially responsible. Spirit and intention is as important as literal compliance.
Why are we so tough on ourselves? The main reason is to minimize consumer cynicism about advertising – if advertisements are chronically misleading and/or offensive, effectiveness of our ads will go down the gurgler.
And we run the risk of Government intervention as happens in most other countries.
The full Codes are available on the ASA website – www.asa.co.nz – but in summary, following are some of the major things to watch out for when creating your next ORCA winner:
Code of Ethics
This is the umbrella code that applies to all ads in all media. It has five basic principles which are as follows:
All advertisements must:
Key points on a Code-by-Code basis are as follows (note that these are just that – read the Codes in detail before you start writing your next radio ad):
Advertising to Children
Ads are expected to observe a high standard of social responsibility (e.g. they should not use violence, undue aggression or frightening elements; “pester power” should be avoided; unsafe situations should be avoided etc).
Advertisements should not mislead (ads must be pitched in a way that children can clearly understand that they are ads and do not take advantage of their immaturity or inexperience).
Advertisements should not encourage inappropriate purchase or use, including excessive consumption.
Advertising which compares one product or service with another should be factual and informative; be explicit about the basis of the comparison being made and should not mislead the consumer about other products or services with which comparisons are being made.
Comparative ads should not unfairly attack or discredit other products, advertisers or advertisements, directly or by implication.
Treatment of People in Radio Advertising
Treatment of people in advertisements must comply with the laws of NZ, in particular provisions of the Human Rights Act and the NZ Bill of Rights.
People should not be portrayed in a manner which is likely to cause serious or widespread hostility, contempt or abuse or ridicule.
People should not be portrayed in a way that taking into account generally prevailing community standards is likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Stereotypes are acceptable provided they do not cause serious or widespread offence etc.
Sexual appeal cannot be used in a way which is exploitative or degrading and attention is drawn to the prohibition of using sexual appeal to draw attention to an unrelated product.
Humour and satire are acceptable provided they do not cause serious or widespread offence, hostility, contempt, abuse or ridicule.
Liquor Advertising & LAPS
Liquor advertising is perhaps the most sensitive and subject to scrutiny or even attack. The Liquor Code is designed to ensure that liquor advertising neither conflicts with, nor detracts from the need for responsibility and moderation in promotion of liquor, and which does not encourage consumption by minors.
All liquor advertisements other than local retail or co-op advertising including price and brand only, are required to have the approval of the Liquor Advertising Pre-vetting Service prior to going to radio stations for final acceptance. The best course of action is to discuss scripts at the development stage with LAPS for which only a small charge is made. This can prevent expensive disappointment later after production.
The basic principles of liquor advertising, in addition to those noted above are that they should observe a high standard of social responsibility (interpretation of this isn’t always easy which is why early discussion with LAPS is a good idea); should not depict or imply the consumption of liquor in potentially hazardous situations or include any unsafe practices (i.e. no drinking before sport, sailing, driving etc, though a relaxing drink after such events is acceptable); must not offer motor vehicles or boats as prizes in any sales promotions; must not be directed toward minors or have a strong appeal to minors (i.e. no use of heroes of the young such as pop stars, sporting stars); sponsorship ads can only include the brand name – no product attributes are acceptable in this context.
If you are developing liquor advertising, you are strongly urged to look at the detail on the ASA website. The LAPS Adjudicator is Ian Willetts (09 575 0677), a New Zealander who has held a number of senior positions in FMCG companies in both New Zealand and Australia. Ian is supported in his role by fellow LAPS Adjudicator Nigel Andrews (09 836 2680 or 0272 263 748).
LAPS Prevetting and Registration forms are housed on the ANZA website.
Liquor Promotions & LPPS
In October 2009 the Liquor Promotions Prevetting System came into effect. LPPS provides prevetting advice for members of the Liquor industry to ensure that compliance with the Advertising Standards Code for Liquor Promotion is practised sales promotions, naming, packaging, sponsorships, websites, branded merchandise and promotional materials.
LLPS Prevetting and registration forms are also housed on the ANZA website.
Please note: you must register with ANZA before using LAPS or LPPS. ANZA relies on the goodwill of liquor advertisers to use LAPS, of liquor industry members to use LLPS , and the media not to accept advertisements without an LAPS approval number.
ANZA encourages all liquor advertisers and liquor industry members to apply for ANZA membership - no matter how large or small their advertising / promotions budget.
All advertisements have to comply with the laws of NZ and in particular the Securities Act, the Credit Contracts Act and the Fair Trading Act.
They are required to observe a high standard of social responsibility and should strictly observe truthfulness, clarity and should not by implication, omission, exaggeration etc mislead, deceive or confuse, or be likely to do this to consumers.
As with liquor, you should read the detailed code on the ASA website - www.asa.co.nz.
Therapeutics also being a sensitive area, advertisements are required to observe a high standard of social responsibility and to be truthful, balanced and not misleading. Any claims made must be valid and have been substantiated.
NZ is one of only two countries in the world where advertising of prescription pharmaceuticals is allowed. With this right comes serious responsibilities in terms of Code compliance. Because of its sensitivity, advertising of prescription pharmaceuticals needs to go through the Therapeutic Advertising Pre-vetting Service (TAPS), contactable through the ANZA website (www.anza.co.nz) – Nigel Andrews (09 836 2680, 0272 263 748) or Peter Pratt (04 938 6409, 0274 921 230).
As with liquor, we strongly recommend that you talk to TAPS in the developmental stages rather than assume you are right at script stage, then find something non-compliant after production.
The three 'umbrella' principles are that all advertisements must comply with the laws of NZ (e.g. the Medicines Act prevents doctors, or people being represented as doctors from appearing in therapeutic advertising); advertisements must be truthful, balanced and not misleading with all claims made approved by Medsafe (never, never say product x will cure … unless it has been officially approved – advertiser ‘say so’ is not enough); and all advertisements must observe a high standard of social responsibility (again, as for liquor, this is a judgmental call with TAPS being able to advise you where the 'line in the sand' is drawn).
And again, as for liquor, you need to read this code in detail via the ASA website – www.asa.co.nz.
Key principles are the requirements that food advertisements containing nutrient, nutrition or health claims should observe a high standard of social responsibility; advertisements directed at children should also observe a high standard of social responsibility (in particular not encouraging them to consume in excess, or substitute treat foods for normal main meals, and characters or groups who have achieved particular celebrity status with children should not be used in ways which undermine Food & Nutrition Guidelines for Children). Be careful not to mislead, particularly in relationship to nutrient, nutritional or health claims.
Gaming & Gambling
The main requirements of this Code are that advertisements must not be directed at minors or have particular appeal to minors; they should not promote reliance on gaming as a means of relieving financial personal difficulties; should not encourage consumers to gamble excessively nor imply unrealistic chances of winning.
There are a number of laws which can affect slimming or weight loss advertising, in particular the Medicines Act 1981, Medicines Regulations 1984, Food Act 1981 and Dietary Supplement Regulations 1985. You should be aware of these.
The main requirements are that advertisements should observe a high standard of social responsibility (e.g. ads should not promote diets which are not nutritionally well balanced or contain less than 800 calories per day; unrealistic or unsafe weight reductions rates should not be promised; ads should not be directed toward people under the age of 18). Weight reductions ads should not mislead or be likely to mislead consumers, particularly as to the outcome of weight reduction programmes (weight loss claims should be typical rather than exceptional, factual and able to be proved; claims such as “eat as much as you like”, “sleep and lose weight” and “eat and get slim” etc are unacceptable). Care has to be taken where testimonials are used – they should be valid, current documented and exceptional cases must be represented as such not as typical).
The two main requirements of this Code are that advertisements should not encourage unsafe practices (e.g. excessive speed or reckless driving, association with alcohol etc) and when containing off road driving sequences, should observe a sense of responsibility to the environment (in particular, not suggest that the outcome will be damage to areas of significant conservation value such as beaches, wetlands, tussock lands etc).
Care needs to be taken when making environmental claims. For instance generalized environmental benefit claims must be assessed on the complete lifecycle of a product and its packaging; absolute claims such as “environmentally safe”, environmentally kind” and “100% ecologically sound” are not acceptable; all claims have to be substantiated and meet relevant local or international standards; claims based on the absence of a harmful or damaging ingredient are not acceptable when other products in the category also do not include the ingredient; scientific terminology is acceptable provided it is relevant and used in a way that can be readily understood by the target market to whom it is directed.
There have been several recent regulatory amendments for the sale of fireworks. From 2007, the sale period has been limited to the 2nd – 5th November (inclusive), with sales ending 5pm Monday 5th November. In addition, the legal age of purchase has been amended to 18 years of age and sparklers can no longer be sold separately but only in larger assorted retail fireworks packs.
These changes will only have minor creative impact on clients wanting to advertise on radio.
1. Advertising for Fireworks products is not restricted to the sale dates – the client can advertise anytime. However the client will now need to be explicit and have the sale dates clearly mentioned in their radio advertising.
2. Although not specifically required, the Advertising Standards Authority has also recommended that radio creative refers to the fact that the sale of fireworks is now R18.
For more information see the Ministry for the Environment Website
Remember to Check the Codes
And a reminder again – the above is ‘top line’ information provided on an 'all care, but no responsibility' basis. Make sure you check the relevant codes in detail at www.asa.co.nz.