The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media. They apply the Advertising Codes, which are written by the Committees of Advertising Practice.

The Codes include general rules that state advertising must be responsible and must not mislead or offend. There are specific rules which cover advertising to children and ads for specific sectors like alcohol, gambling, motoring, health and financial products.

The ASA act on complaints and check the media to take action against misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements.

What do they cover?

The ASA deal with most types of adverts but not all. The types of adverts they deal with include:

  • Magazine and newspaper advertisements
  • Radio and TV commercials (not programmes or programme sponsorship)
  • Television Shopping Channels
  • Advertisements on the Internet, including:
  • Banner and display ads
  • paid-for (sponsored) search
  • Marketing on companies’ own websites and in other spaces they control like social networking sites Twitter and Facebook
  • Commercial e-mail and SMS text message ads
  • Posters on legitimate poster sites (not fly posters)
  • Leaflets and brochures
  • Cinema commercials
  • Advertising within smartphone and tablet apps
  • Direct mail (advertising sent through the post and addressed to you personally)
  • Door drops and circulars (advertising posted through the letterbox without your name on)
  • Ads on CD ROMs, DVD and video, and faxes
  • Sales promotions, such as special offers, prize draws and competitions wherever they appear.

What if I have a complaint?

The first thing to do is to complain to the organisation making the advert. If you are not happy with their response or do not get a reply, contact the Trading Standards Service who may be able to help.

They will then advise you, should you need to contact the ASA.

How can you make a complaint to the ASA?

First, check whether your complaint is covered by the ASA. Find out what they cover, or if you’re still not sure, call them to discuss your complaint.

If it is, submit your complaint online, or telephone, or write to them.

Where you can get more information

Tel: +44 20 7492 2222