Top tips to avoid misleading imagery in marketing communications

read time: 2 min

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has provided advice for avoiding misleading imagery in advertisements. 

It is key that advertising materials do not materially mislead consumers. In order to determine whether they are likely to do so, the entire advertisement and its overall impression will be assessed. A crucial part of this will be considering any imagery used within an advertisement and the impression that the imagery gives.  

Imagery may materially mislead consumers if it creates an inaccurate impression of a product or service, for example if it leads a consumer to believe that:

  • the quality, capability or performance of the product is greater than it is; or
  • they will receive additional products or services for no additional cost.

Do not exaggerate

Images that exaggerate the efficacy, capability or performance of a product should not be used within advertising materials. 

Marketers must not use imagery that misrepresents the results obtainable from using a product. For example, marketers should not use filters that depict an inaccurate result or use imagery that suggests that the time frame to achieve a desired result is shorter than it is in reality.  

Do not mislead customers about what they will receive

Imagery used in advertisements must clearly demonstrate what a consumer will receive. 

For example, the imagery should not include additional products that the consumer would be required to pay extra for, unless it is explicitly clear that those products are not included in the offering and are subject to a further payment.

Example: advertising video and mobile games

Marketers must ensure that all imagery, such as in-play footage used in adverts for video or mobile games, is representative of gameplay. 

If additional graphics are used in a video or mobile game advertisement which are not representative of actual gameplay, it is unlikely to be sufficient to include the phrase ‘not representative of actual gameplay’. Even with this phrase included the advertisement is still likely to mislead consumers. 

Additional guidance

The ASA makes available a wide range of guidance on misleading advertising, not just misleading imagery. Certain rules will apply to all marketing and others will be sector or scenario specific, for example if making environmental or health claims. 

It is important to ensure that any advertising materials you produce comply with the ASA’s CAP Code and its supporting guidance.

If you’d like advice on a wide range of commercial legal issues, such as growing your business or introducing a new project, please contact the commercial team.

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