Why understanding the ASA Advertising Codes matters

Every day Government Communication Service (GCS) delivers world-class public service communications.

We run highly effective campaigns that citizens can trust and engage with. In a communications landscape where disinformation and misinformation are becoming ever more prevalent, it is crucial that government paid advertising continues to be seen as a trustworthy and reliable voice.

Who are the ASA?

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s principal independent advertising regulator formed in 1961, ensuring rigorous standards in all areas of advertising in the UK. The ASA makes sure ads across the UK abide to the advertising rules by measuring them against the Advertising Codes. The purpose of the Codes is to make advertisements responsible and beneficial for both advertisers and consumers of advertising.

Why does it matter to GCS?

When campaigns abide by the ASA’s codes, the public can expect to receive decent, honest and truthful communication. Citizens are able to trust the integrity of the information they are receiving, and act upon it to affect positive change. In short, the Advertising Codes helps GCS deliver effective and efficient campaigns.

Creating an enduring standard of quality in government communications therefore means working closely and collaboratively with the ASA. GCS has set up a number of initiatives to foster a fruitful partnership with the ASA including:

  • meetings between senior GCS and ASA staff to discuss current industry issues, standards, and how best to work together
  • promotion of relevant ASA content through GCS channels
  • creating a bespoke training session delivered specifically for government communicators

We hope that through these various initiatives, GCS can continue to make best use of the very important regulatory work carried out by the ASA, and use it to consistently deliver high quality campaigns.

How can you get more information?

Every government communicator should make themselves familiar with the parts of the Advertising Codes that are relevant for their work, as these provide the correct benchline for the expected standard of communication activity. The ASA provides a number of resources that can help guide government communicators. These include:

ASA and Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) provide an extremely useful free pre-publication Copy Advice service. This team can offer GCS communicators advice on how their communications copy will be received by the ASA.

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