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With the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sweeping all the headlines ahead of the big day later this month, it is no surprise that marketers and business owners are keen to capitalise on the event and tie it in with any advertising they deem remotely relevant.
It is essential however to be aware that there are set rules surrounding the use of royal occasions in marketing and advertising campaigns. The rules, or ‘Codes’ as they are officially known, are set down by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Failure to follow the codes is likely to lead to complaints, followed by an investigation by the ASA. If the complaint is upheld, the content in question is required to be removed immediately. This could obviously lead to wasted investment and further costs in removing campaigns, not to mention a knock to your public profile.
Royal mentions: what is and isn’t allowed.
Let’s take a look at what is and what is not deemed allowable by the ASA in terms of royal mentions in marketing content.
General references – it’s a yes.
The ASA says that, whilst general references to a royal event are usually permissible, and a simple message of congratulations posted on your social media platforms is highly unlikely to be frowned upon, it is crucial that your content does not imply that a service or a product has Royal Family endorsement, or that it is connected to a royal event in any way.
The ASA says it is not usually permissible to mention any members of the Royal Family in marketing or advertising content without first obtaining their permission. However, if you happen to mention an article, a film or a book about one of the Royals in say a blog or article of your own on an incidental basis, and it does not come across as an endorsement or claim of backing for a product or service you are connected with, then that will usually be considered acceptable.
A general reference to a royal event will also usually be within acceptable limits. For example, you may wish to say something like, ‘Celebrate the Royal Wedding with us and enjoy 10% off everything on Saturday 19th May’.
For further information, have a look at CAP Rule 6.1 which deals with protection from unwarranted infringements of privacy.
Claims of endorsement – a definite no.
If you make a claim or imply an endorsement, this will not be acceptable. You must never claim or imply that your product or service is used or endorsed by any members of the Royal Family, or connected with any royal event, if it is not.
Even if it is, you will need official permission to state as such (see next section).
You’ll need to be mindful of crossing fine lines here. For example, it is rumoured that the royal bride and groom will be using plants from wildflower meadows to decorate their wedding venue.
As a florist, you may wish to promote your ‘pollinator-friendly flowers, as favoured by the new royal couple’. However, whilst you are not outwardly claiming that your flowers are the exact ones used by the couple, or that you supplied the Royal Wedding venue, it may be construed that your statement is a royal endorsement of the products you are selling. So you can see how you need to tread very carefully here.
Royal Arms, Emblems and Warrants.
ASA guidance says that if you have been given official, relevant permission by the Royal Family to feature the Royal Arms or Emblems, or to refer to a Royal Warrant in connection with the promotion of your products, then you may of course do so.
Permission to use the Royal Arms or Emblems must come from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, and references to a Royal Warrant must be checked with the Royal Warrant Holder’s Association.
If you do not hold such permission, then you must not proceed. CAP Rule 3.52 applies here.
We have read that it is not the norm for adverts promoting souvenir products to be considered as implying royal endorsement. However, the ASA says it is wise to exercise caution to make sure the advertisement does not imply that what you are promoting is official memorabilia if it is not.
It is important if you are in the business of marketing royal souvenirs that you ensure your adverts meet the guidance set down by the Lord Chamberlain’s Office on the commercial use of Royal Insignia and images connected with souvenir products that commemorate a royal engagement or wedding.
Where to go for advice.
If you are concerned about getting it right with your marketing campaigns and are keen to ensure they comply with the ASA’s CAP Code, the Copy Advice Team is on hand to help. You can also gain reassurance by having your marketing copy professionally written. That way you can have complete peace of mind that it will be fully standards compliant. That’s something Figment can help with.
For more information on marketing around a royal event, take a look at this ASA resource.