Its TV Commercial Substantiation Day at Concept TV!

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It’s “Substantiation Day” at Concept TV today!  So below, our expert shares some of our techniques and explains how it all works.

So, we’re busy pulling together all the research collected over the last few months into a full television advertising script report, and we thought you might like to know how broadcast compliance works.  So below, our Clearcast TV Advertising Compliance expert explains how we navigate the UK’s most regulated advertising medium.

Can you make a TV Commercial and broadcast it, similar to press advertising? Or do TV Adverts have to be approved before they are transmitted?

Unless the TV Channel handles their own compliance (none of the major ones do – in fact only a small handful do), every TV Commercial must be pre-approved for broadcast.

With every TV Commercial that is broadcast on TV in the UK, it has to be supported with a complete set of documentation proving each and every claim or visual.  If Clearcast, (the clearance authority) and their consultants, agree that the substantiation proves the claims you want to make in your TV Commercial, then your “clock number” is approved for broadcast.

Here’s a list of typical TV Advertising Script Claims that are more complicated than they seem:

“We’re number 1”

“(anything) FREE!”

“We’re the cheapest”

“We’re the best” or “We’re better than the rest”

“Lifetime Guarantee”

“A Quick Spray to Remove Mould”


Whilst those claims seem fairly standard in print or on a shop-front display, TV’s influential nature means broadcasters have to be very careful.  Likewise, two TV Advertising Clients couldn’t claim to both be “Number 1”, it would undermine consumer confidence in TV Commercial Advertising.

Here’s some free script / copywriting advice for you.  Instead of the unattainable claim “we are the cheapest”, you could instead run with “…the lowest price, we’ll give you the difference back!”.  Now, so long as you can prove you have reasonable grounds to assume you are the cheapest (competitor references, identical offering), and you have the where-with-all to back up your money-back guarantee, you should achieve Clearcast Approval.

Why is it essential to have a Clearcast Approved Clock Number before broadcasting?

Clearcast represent the broadcasters – who in turn have an obligation under their broadcasting license (issued by OFCOM) to ensure that anything they transmit is legal, decent, honest and does not mislead the consumer.  Broadcasters stand to lose badly if the don’t fully comply with these rules.  Penalties for non compliance include being fined substantial sums of money and they even risk losing their license to broadcast all together.  Why is compliance so important?  Because TV is considered to be one of the most powerful and influential mediums in the world!

What are some of the aspects of Concept TV’s Broadcast Compliance work?

  • Conduct further detailed research into the products performance, consumer reviews and competitor products (and their advertising copywriting),
  • Designing, Commissioning of controlled Product Tests, with final Report Generation,
  • Contacting industry peers for review,
  • Linking up the details the client is able to provide to us (in some cases this is highly commercially confidential) and then filling the gap to satisfy Clearcast’s agenda.
  • Conducting product demonstration photographs and videos.
  • Conducting consumer surveys.
  • Generating a compelling report with all of the above to convince the consultants

If Clearcast has further questions about the claims, it’s sent back to the agency and we then have the substantial task of gathering sufficient evidence that the claims are valid.

What happens if a TV Commercial claim is rejected?

Sometimes a compromise between broadcast compliance and the advertisers ideal script is required.  Again, that’s where Concept TV come in as an experienced TV Agency.  Our copywriter will work to identify powerful words and phrases that are compliant, but also say what the client wants (as far as possible!).  If you’d like to know more about this aspect, ask us about our Solid Wood vs. Real Wood submissions.

Its important to choose a Full Service TV Advertising Agency, not just a production company.

As a full service TV Advertising Agency, it’s our job to liaise with our client and Clearcast (the compliance agency) to ensure the ads we broadcast are legal, decent and honest.  As a rule of thumb, we won’t pick up the camera until we have a Clearcast approved TV Commercial Script.  Any production company that does is risking it’s clients money.  What if you’ve filmed £60,000 worth of TV Commercial, but then it’s rejected and you need to re-shoot?  We’ve had a number of clients come to us with exactly that problem – and we’ve had to help them pick up the pieces!

Not only will we help deal and mitigate the compliance aspect, but we’ll also work with you and explain how Clearcast and their consultants are likely to interpret the BCAP (Broadcast Code Of Practice) guidelines when looking at your intended claims.  After all, you don’t want to broadcast a TV Commercial that ends up being pulled off-air, resulting in expensive loss of airtime budget.

Are you having problems with Clearcast / Broadcast Copy Compliance?

Give us a call now on 0203 002 92 42.  We’ve got 12 years of experience obtaining Clearcast approval for all manner of products and services.  From HG Mould Spray and Drain Unblocker chemicals through to domestic appliances by Morphy Richards, Kitchens to safety devices.  We’ve achieved approval for every single product that we’ve been presented with – and thats something we’re really proud of!

Want to know more about TV Advertising Compliance? Call us now – 0203 002 92 42.

It’s banned TV adverts time..! Take a look at this TOP 10 Banned TV Commercials and discover why they get banned.

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Banned TV Adverts UK

Banned TV Commercials from the UK

As promised at one of our TV Advertising seminars, we’ve found the link to the TOP 10 most controversial UK TV Adverts YouTube video.  We’re not sure why banned TV Adverts so compelling to watch – perhaps its our way of looking at mistakes creative agencies can make.  Or perhaps its the creative industries brazen audacity?

Why do Television Adverts get banned?

Its often a surprise to us when a TV Commercial gets banned after it’s been transmitted.  In the UK, all TV Commercials have to be approved by an organisation called Clearcast.  To some Creative TV Agencies, this can be a problem – especially if you want to make outrageous claims that simply don’t stand up (are their clients really number 1?).  Luckily, at Concept TV, we have put Clearcast approval at the heart of our creative workflow – so we’ve currently never had a TV Commercial outright rejected – and we’ve especially never had one pulled from broadcast by the ASA.

TV Commercials have to follow the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising – administered by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority).  This is similar to all other forms of advertising which have to follow the CAP Advertising Codes.  In the unlikely event that a TV Commercial is approved and then banned, it will most likely be because a member or members of the public have taken offence to the nature of the content, as opposed to a company not being able to deliver on a specific claim.

5 major reasons that TV Commercials are banned after being broadcast:

  1. Violence – The visual content is violent and shown before the 9:00pm watershed.  People worry that children may be watching and that it will adversely affect their character.
  2. Sex – The visual content or underlying theme is seen as being too sexy for a pre-watershed showing.  Again, people tend to feel that TV Adverts featuring too much ‘sex-appeal’ will corrupt our society.
  3. Scaremongering – Its unusual for a TV Commercial to be approved by Clearcast if it obviously contains an element of scaremongering.  As seen in the top 10 banned tv commercials video above, environmental warnings often make the statement that the world is heading for apocalypse if we keep burning super-mega-watts of electricity on that little red light on the TV…!  Needless to say, you can’t threaten people with detrimental consequences if they do not buy into your proposition!
  4. Making claims that aren’t true – Again, it’s unusual for a TV Commercial to be approved by Clearcast if the advertiser can’t back up their claims.  For instance, you can’t offer a watch for £5 if you don’t have any, or maybe only a couple in stock, when the ones really made available are £100.  At Concept TV Advertising, we work hard to make sure that advertisers can make the claims they need by looking at ways to ensure that all claims can be substantiated.  We’ll also advise on alternative claims that are broadcast compliant but also say what the advertiser wants to say.
  5. Generally offensive – The KFC TV Advert clearly shows people speaking with their mouth full, which worried the public that children would copy those actions.  At Concept TV, we also less fondly remember a TV Advert from the 90’s (we think..) when children sat at a table, banged their knife and fork and demanded “Feed me, Feed me NOW!  Yes, McCains Oven Chips certainly pushed decent society to the edge with that one – even though we don’t think it was actually ever banned!  Not all public complaints are upheld by the ASA – if they were, we wouldn’t have any TV Advertising, the industry would go bankrupt and there would be no Saturday night TV anymore (stop cheering!).  This point has been banned for scaremongering.

How can you avoid having your TV Commercial from being banned from broadcast?

Simple.  Engage Concept TV to handle script development, or at least get us to mediate with Clearcast on your behalf.  When it comes to creating a compelling TV Commercial, we know what we’re doing.  After all, we were one of the first TV Agencies to get a Mould Spray TV Commercial approved in the UK in recent times.  We go the extra mile to make your claims compliant.  Being more than just a bunch of creatives with wild ideas, we make sure that your TV Commercial has broadcast approval at script level – before we even pick up the camera.

We’ve hear of lots of cases where want-to-be TV Advertisers have paid for expensive and impressive TV Commercials that have never seen the light of day – simply because their content was not suitable for broadcast.  We regularly put in the time to refine the communication and develop complex, detailed substantiation that takes even the toughest of our advertisers claims to the screen.

Want to know more about how TV Advertising works, what we can do for you, or perhaps you want us to take a look at your case?  Call us now on 0203 002 92 42 – email – or visit

Are smoking TV adverts back on our screens? No. But adverts for e-cigarettes will soon be appearing on UK Television.

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Are smoking TV adverts back? No.  But adverts for e-cigarettes will soon be appearing on UK Television.

It’s been many years since smoking was advertised on television – and rightly so!  TV Advertising is a highly influential medium which is why there are exceptionally strict guidelines.  For TV and Radio, advertising copy must comply with the BCAP Codes (Committee on Advertising Practise – Broadcast Advertising) on what products and services are marketed and how they are marketed.

Concept TV supports the banning of TV Advertising that contain dangerous or misleading propositions, including tobacco ads.

We strive to be an ethical TV Advertising Agency.  It’s important to us that our advertisers have genuine intentions and that they comply with the rules.  We work with our clients using our extensive knowledge of the industry and the advertising code to ensure their marketing communications comply and can be substantiated.  This is especially the case when considering how vulnerable people respond to advertising.

The ban of smoking ads was clear and comprehensive when it came into force.  In the UK, it is against the law to advertise a tobacco product, the act of smoking tobacco or things associated with smoking tobacco products (e.g. brands / logos, rolling tools, papers, ash trays, etc).  You can read more about The legislation for tobacco advertising and promotion here.

E-Cigarettes do contain nicotine, but do not contain tobacco and as such are not classed as a tobacco product.  This makes e-cigarettes exempt from the anti-smoking rules.  Instead of burning tobacco, they emit a nicotine vapour that the “e-smoker” consumes.

In some cases, electronic cigarettes have been prevented as a means to stop smoking – similar to a nicotine patch, but in some other cases they have been presented as an alternative to smoking tobacco products.

How an electronic cigarette works.

Smoking e-cigarettes TV Advertising

In the UK, Television Advertising is regulated by the ASA and must be approved by Clearcast before broadcast.

Unlike other forms of advertising, almost all commercial TV channels in the UK require advertisers to have their ad copy approved by Clearcast.  This extra process makes it far less likely that misleading claims or rogue products end up on TV, thereby ensuring the integrity of Television Advertising.

Until recently, TV Advertising that promoted the sale or use of e-cigarettes had not been allowed; but on the 17th January 2013, Clearcast announced to the industry that it had passed a number of e-cigarette TV Adverts for broadcast.  Click here to view Clearcast’s statement regarding e-cigarettes TV Advertising.

Is it right or wrong?

There is some disagreement between manufacturers of e-cigarettes and anti-smoking organisations.  Further studies into the effects of e-cigarette advertising communications and the products themselves should be published as information becomes available.

From an industry perspective, it is important that manufacturers and advertising agencies act ethically and work together to ensure that when e-cigarettes are advertised, they are presented in a responsible way.  Specifically, we would suggest that e-cigarette advertising must not directly or accidentally encourage or glamorise the product to non-smokers or the smoking of tobacco products, especially to younger and vulnerable viewers.

The BBC News web site has further information here.