Rules in Scotland and the rest of the UK are enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Statutory bodies like the Office of Communications (Ofcom) and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), as well as local trading standards offices, also have powers over adverts. They can take action if your advert is found to be inaccurate, dishonest or discriminatory.
In Scotland, your advertising and marketing for your business must be accurate and honest. They also need to follow specific advertising codes, practices and regulations.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations means you cannot mislead or harass consumers by, for example, including false messages.
You cannot make deceptive comparisons with competitors, such as using their logo – this is set out in the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations.
If you break the regulations, your business could be reported to either a local trading standards office or the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). You could also be fined or imprisoned.
Advertising codes of practices
There are two advertising codes of practices that govern how your business should advertise in Scotland and the rest of the UK. They cover all kinds of promotional communications, depending where the advert or promotion will appear. This includes:
- Non-broadcasting advertising like print and online sales promotion and direct marketing
- Broadcast media like TV and radio
Non-broadcasting codes set out business standards for accuracy and honesty. And broadcast codes cover issues like decency, product placement and scheduling.