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ARE YOUR ONLINE VIDEO ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS COMPLIANT?

The Advertising Standards Authority jurisdiction encompasses marketing communications which appear online on the advertiser's own websites, Email campaigns, other web pages controlled by them such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube etc. and also advertiser generated blogs.

The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code) applies to "Advertisements and other marketing communications by or from companies, organisations or sole traders on their own websites, or in other non-paid-for space online under their control, that are directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods, services, opportunities and gifts, or which consist of direct solicitations of donations as part of their own fund-raising activities".

CAP's implementation document makes clear that the remit is framed so as to focus specifically upon material "which can be properly accepted as constituting an advertisement or any other marketing communication"

Whilst potential clients or consumers reasonably expect the Code to apply to advertisements and promotions, it also applies to endorsements and testimonials. With the rising popularity of video endorsements and testimonials it's worth knowing that there are enforceable rules.

The Code means that endorsements and testimonials must be "truthful" and they must not "mislead". They must be "checkable". Where they convey an endorser's experience with a product or service that is not the actual case, it is required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. It must also make clear any connections, interests, for profit, that might exist between the person offering the endorsement or testimonial and the product or service featured. This would include being a shareholder, employment, membership, payment in kind such as free products, free services or discounts etc. Testimonials should be without "reward or inducement".

If a case study is produced in house or by a paid agency, with an intention to promote or sell, then it is an advert and therefore subject to The Advertising Standards Authority jurisdiction.

Press releases, editorials and PR content provided by an independent body that has no direct gain from being associated with the product or service may be exempt but user generated content will be subject to the Code if it is adopted and incorporated by an advertiser into their marketing communications.
Ensure your video endorsements & testimonials are compliant
An established Advertising Agency or specialist Corporate Film Production Company would be unlikely to release anything that is in breach of the Code, but there are several sections of media production including photographers, graphics designers, web developers, ex TV camera persons and wedding videographers who may not have the appropriate grounding in advertising and therefore not be familiar with the criteria.

So, what might initially appear as a simple video endorsement or testimonial could actually be a potential minefield, which is why the days of DIY advertising are over. Whilst on the subject of DIY advertising or promotions, do remember also that the use of commercially produced music is an infrigement of copyright and therefore illegal. Your clients will know it, so don't show them you are a deliberate law breaker.

It can take only one complaint to trigger an investigation and anybody suspecting that an endorsement or testimonial fails to meet the Code may report it to The Advertising Standards Authority for scrutiny. If a complaint is upheld, penalties can range from having the content removed, to major fines. Their rulings are published regularly.

This article has been partly reproduced from other reliable and official resources. This article is not, however, complete and therefore should not be used as the definitive guide. If in doubt, individual cases should be checked with The Advertising Standards Authority.

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If you would like help creating better quality and compliant endorsements, professionally researched and conducted interactive business interviews, or a company promotion/product advert, why not give CorpFilms [UK] a call?
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CorpFilms [UK] specialises in 'high-end' corporate film production. * Company Promotions * Web and Point of Sale adverts * Training, Employee Inductions and e-Learning * Product 'How to' User Guides & Demonstrations * Live Events and Award Ceremonies * Interactive Interviews
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