Promotions – the legal guidelines

Promotions are monitered by the law, so be sure to get it right

Promotions are monitored by both the law and assorted industry codes of practice. The advertising and promotions industry has a self-regulatory code, which is supervised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ASA deal with any consumer complaints about promotions.

However, advice required before, and during the running of, a promotion is best obtained from the ISP. It can offer legal advice, general guidelines and contacts as well as more detailed information on competition registration, judging and coupons.

The promoter carries responsibility for all elements of a promotion and all potential promoters should obtain a copy of the British code of sales promotion practice from the ISP.

The complexity of certain promotional techniques tests the self-regulatory system to the limit. Scratchcard-type instant wins are particularly awkward in terms of the no purchase necessary requirement.

Without this, such promotions would become illegal lotteries, as recent court cases have documented.

Other areas which require particularly careful attention are specialist trade codes, such as tobacco and alcohol, any promotions aimed at children and in the event of any databases being created or used, the data protection act.

Legislation differs greatly across Europe, with many techniques being illegal in certain countries and others having further restrictive conditions.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) supervises the international code of sales promotion practice but you should always seek local expertise when promoting internationally.

With some countries pushing for tougher restrictions throughout Europe, it seems likely that Britain’s more tolerant self-regulatory code may be further challenged in the not too distant future.


The promoter carries responsibility for all elements of a promotion.


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