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How Your Social Media Campaign

Will Get You in Trouble... Maybe
SMX Advanced London, May 2010
Melissa Campbell
The Laws and

SMX Advanced London, May 2010
ASA’s UK Code of Non-broadcast
Advertising, Sales Promotion and
Direct Marketing
AKA - “the Code”

The Digital Economy
Act 2010
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is the self
regulatory body that creates, revises and enforces the Code.
– Ref: Preface to the Code

CAP Help Note on Advertising Virals states:

Advertising virals are e-mail, text or other non-broadcast
marketing messages that are designed to stimulate
significant circulation by recipients to generate commercial or
reputational benefit to the advertiser from the consequential
publicity. They are usually put into circulation (“seeded”) by the
advertiser with a request, either explicit or implicit, for the
message to be forwarded to others. Sometimes they include a
video clip or a link to website material or are part of a sales

promotion campaign.
What You Are
Doing Wrong

SMX Advanced London, May 2010
Not making your identity or intentions clear
2.2 Unsolicited e-mail marketing communications must be
obviously identifiable as marketing communications
without the need to open them (see rule 10.6).

2.3 Marketing communications must not falsely claim
or imply that the marketer is acting as a consumer
or for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or
profession; marketing communications must make
clear their commercial intent, if that is not obvious from
the context.

Ref: the Code, Sections 2.2 and 2.3
Orlando Figes and the false Amazon reviews

Orlando Figes – Bocko M. on Flickr
Guy at computer – scriptingnews on Flickr
Being wilfully offensive to get attention
4.1 Marketing communications must not contain
anything that is likely to cause serious or
widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to
avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion,
gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.
Compliance will be judged on the context,
medium, audience, product and prevailing
Marketing communications may be distasteful
without necessarily breaching this rule.
Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities
before using potentially offensive material.

Ref: the Code, Section 4.1
Tombola Bingo’s offensive video Offensive Facebook ad
Misusing databases
10.10 The extent and detail of personal information
held for any purpose must be adequate and
relevant and should not be excessive for that purpose.
10.11 Personal information must not be kept for
longer than is necessary for the purpose for which it was
originally obtained.
10.12 If after collection they decide to use personal
information for a purpose significantly different from that
originally communicated, marketers must first get the
explicit consent of consumers.

Ref: the Code, Section 10.10 – 10.12
Lego Fail Whale - tveskov on Flickr
The consequences

SMX Advanced London, May 2010
Violations of the Code could result in:
• Sanctions
• Adverse publicity
• Withholding of media,
contractors’ and service
providers’ services
• Imposed pre-vetting
• Referral to the Office of Fair
Trading for legal action

Ref: Preface to The CAP Code – The UK Code of Non-broadcast
Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the Code)
• This is determined
by a self-governing
industry panel

• The panel is not
a police force –
someone must
make a complaint

Ref: Preface to the Code
The Digital Economy Act 2010
The Digital Economy Act covers
copyright infringement. 

Do you know where your images, videos and text
come from? 

Are they Creative Contents-licensed? 

Have your credited sources properly?
Digital Economy Act consequences
• Inclusion on a copyright infringement list
Section 4 of the Digital Economy Act

• Having limited or blocked internet access
Sections 9-12 of the Digital Economy Act

• Paying for costs incurred during a subscriber
appeal Section 15 of the Digital Economy Act
The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales
Promotion and Direct Marketing
Help Note on Advertising Virals
The Digital Economy Act 2010
SEO Consultant


Melissa specialises in social media
marketing and content creation.

She was a copy editor for an international
legal guide before joining Distilled.