The Advertising Standards Authority | Everything You Need to Know

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the governing body that determines what adverts are suitable for the public and which aren’t. There are not many actual laws when it comes to advertising, so without the ASA marketers would have free rein to do whatever they wanted. The ASA keeps advertisements in line with certain shared values and has a strict set of codes that marketers must abide, to keep the sanctity of advertising alive.

There are many codes regarding advertising, here is a short breakdown of some of the main advertising rules and what they mean;

Misleading Advertising

Advertisements must not mislead or straight up lie to the public. Advertisers are not allowed to omit material that is misleading, but they also cannot hide information that may make an advert misleading.

A large debate in the make-up industry is should models wearing a company’s product be allowed to be photoshopped – as this creates unrealistic results and misinforms the public of the ability of certain makeup brands.


The ASA have codes regarding alcoholic beverages. As a marketer, you cannot advertise alcohol to anyone under 18 years old. Adverts must not encourage, imply or condone anti-social behaviour or reckless drinking. They also must not encourage people to buy alcohol on the basis that it will make them more confident, popular or sexually attractive.  They basically cannot in anyway make drinking alcohol look like you will have improved life or social status.

According to these codes, music festivals such as T in the Park who are sponsored by an alcoholic beverage cannot target a market under the age of 18 years old.


Under this code, advertisers cannot feature or refer to a living person without their consent if it is in a defamatory manner. If advertisers use someone’s name or image without permission as long as it is not offensive and doesn’t interfere with the person’s private life, then it is generally fine. But permission from the person in question is always advised.


The ASA’s definition of a child is someone who is under 16 years old. You need to sensitively schedule adverts aimed at children as some adverts that are suitable for older kids may distress younger ones. Adverts must also not condone or encourage behaviour that could lead to the danger or harm of children.

Harm and Offence

Adverts must not step outside of the excepted morals of social and cultural standards. This includes showing or alluding to any sort of violence – especially against people under the age of 18. Adverts cannot condone or encourage behaviour that might risk public health and safety. Adverts must also not encourage discrimination, crime, or anti-social behaviour.


Although advertising codes vary slightly between the type of media used, these are some of the basic rules that must be adhered to.

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