2. What you need to do
If your ad is just a branding message or a simple offer which needs no qualification then you won’t need any Ts&Cs. And some Ts&Cs are fine if they are relatively clear and simple. But what about when those Ts&Cs get longer and more complicated (a general guide would be longer than 5 seconds)? How do you comply with the rules whilst ensuring your Ts&Cs are as clear and simple as possible so listeners can absorb and understand them? Below are some suggestions:
Sometimes the Ts&Cs become necessary because a single detail about the offer has been included e.g. an interest rate or monthly cost for a credit ad, or a limited price offer. So it is worth considering whether that detail is really necessary on radio.
Radio works extremely well at building brand awareness and reinforcing messages in other media but, as our Ts&Cs research demonstrates, it is not always the place for lots of detail. Consider how radio can be used to boost the effectiveness of your campaign in the context of other media.
What’s important: telling them about the specific detail which is necessitating those Ts&Cs or encouraging them to have a look online for more information about your offer?
Make sure that any Ts&Cs included in your ad are really necessary before you sign it off. Remember you may be doing your consumers a disservice if you make them too complicated.
Sometimes advertisers include terms at the end of radio ads which aren’t always needed in order to comply with the rules, resulting in Ts&Cs becoming even longer. It might seem simpler to take a “belt and braces” approach but if it results in too much information this isn’t going to help either you or your consumer. You may think you are “informing” but you might be having the opposite effect.
FCA regulated motors ads
One of the sectors where Ts&Cs can become particularly long is motors, often when the ad includes a financial offer. To address this, in January 2020 the FCA approved the publication of FCA Confirmed Industry Guidance for Motors in radio advertisements. This acknowledges that lengthy Ts&Cs aren’t always in the interests of consumers and lists a number of common terms which get included in motors credit or lease offers on radio but aren’t always required and explains why. The list is not designed by any means to be exhaustive but it does cover some of the most common examples.
BCAP regulated ads
An important piece of legislation which the Advertising Standards Authority considers when investigating complaints is the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs), also cited in Appendix 1 of the BCAP Code.
Under the CPR’s the effect of an advertisement is generally considered in the context of the average consumer the ad is talking to and whether the omission of information is likely to lead the consumer to take a course of action which he or she wouldn’t otherwise have taken.
Consider what difference adding that extra piece of information in your Ts&Cs will really make to the consumer. Is it something you would expect your consumer to know anyway or would excluding it result in the listener taking an altogether different course of action?
One further observation is that people often put ‘conditions apply’ or ‘ts and cs apply’ in an ad without really thinking about what claim it relates to and whether it is really needed. For example, simply giving a price in an ad doesn’t automatically mean a conditions tag has to be included.
Sometimes we get examples of Ts&Cs which include information which has already been stated in the ad itself. Remember, when the Ts&Cs at the end are too long the listener is more likely to zone out so it’s not worth including the information twice.
Once having worked out what Ts&Cs are needed for a particular advertisement, it’s worth trying to find ways of making sure the most important information lands effectively without any negative impact on the brand. For example:
- If the information is central to the offer, could some of it be included in the ad itself?
- Don’t try to gabble them so fast that it’s difficult for the ear to follow. Not only is it against the rules but it can irritate the listener. Always remember that any Ts&Cs you do need to include must be audible.
- Think about how you can make the Ts&Cs sound better. Using the same voiceover at the end and even retaining the same music bed behind the Ts&Cs can make them easier on the ear. But remember, if you do this, the Ts&Cs must still be heard – don’t use music just to drown them out!