Covid-19: Your questions, answered

25th February 2021

By Vicki Ford, Copy Clearance Executive

The next few weeks will mark almost a year since we went into the first national lockdown. We understand that this has been a difficult area to navigate when it comes to advertising. Since our last blog, the government guidelines are still in place and all our previous advice remains the same. Our approach is pragmatic and we ask that ads continue to follow the ASA guiding principles.

We thought it might be useful to answer some of the most commonly asked questions our copy team have received over the last few months.

Q Does our ad need to adhere to social distancing rules and people wearing facemasks if the ad doesn’t focus on Covid- 19?

A If your ad calls out the pandemic or has any kind of messaging on keeping everyone safe, we consider this a direct reference to it and would expect the visuals to reflect the government guidelines. For example, if you are a retailer reassuring your customers on safety measures in-store, all people in the ad should be wearing masks and be socially distanced. If there is no mention of the pandemic or lockdown, you are fine to show visuals without social distancing.

Q We will be using old visuals for a new campaign. Can we have a super to let people know it was ‘filmed pre Covid-19’?

A Whilst we would not ask for this super to be removed unless its inclusion makes the supers fail, we don’t recommend ads have this. If the ad references Covid-19 with conflicting visuals and includes this super, it could be considered contradictory.

Q Can we advertise travelling abroad or staycations?

A There is currently no indication of exactly when holidays will be possible in the summer although it is hoped this will be from 21 June. Due to ongoing uncertainty both in the UK and abroad, we suggest travel ads include a super e.g. Travel restrictions may apply”. Looking at the recent Ryanair ruling, whilst it might be possible to advertise the availability of flights, travel companies should avoid the promotion of flights during a certain period or have any promotional offers with ‘book by’ dates.

The visuals will also need to be considered. Large groups of people are unlikely to be in one household and there may be destinations that are not allowing non-essential travel therefore restrictions abroad will also need to be considered. We would also advise against any references to the vaccination programme and people being able to travel just because they may have received the vaccination.

Q We need to create a travel and tourism ad but what happens if the restrictions change whilst it is on air? Is there a super we could use?

A We would suggest using the super – ‘Check the latest government and travel advice before booking your trip’.

How we can help:

Training

The training team are hosting a one-off ‘Hot Topic: Travel Training’ webinar session on Friday the 19th March. The 45-minute session will delve into the hot topic of travel ads and give best practice advice, including our current approach, dealing with our supers policy, exploring ASA guidelines, the nuances involved and social responsibility issues. You can see the full syllabus and book online or email the team for more information.

“A very informative course. I feel I have a better grasp of what works in the advertising space during Covid times. The examples were top notch and helped immensely. Michael has a great flow with his language and kept me engaged. I would recommend this course to people in my industry especially those that are working with travel, charity brands”

– Ava, Traffic Bureau – February 2021

For future ‘vital update’ courses, weekly Q&As and more, keep an eye on our training team’s Twitter page here.

Copy Development

Like everything else related to Covid-19, advertising will fluctuate and change as time goes on. Our Copy Development service is particularly accommodating at this time. Seb (our Copy Development Manager) can help shape your concepts if you’re struggling to toe the line and keep your ad on the right side of the Code rules or the within the spirit of the government guidelines as they evolve.

If you have any further concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your Clearcast Executive.

If you have any questions about this blog or Clearcast in general, please email us here.