Code of Conduct

This first edition of the Code comes into force on 1 May 2018.

    1. This Code applies to all branded and non-branded digital content distributed as virtual assets in real-world locations as an augmented or immersive reality. It is designed to inform members of the standards expected in the content and placement of content and to protect consumers and physical infrastructures.

The basic principles of the Code are set out in Section 1: Compliance. All Ofcom-licensed members should be familiar with the contents of this Code, which can be accessed on the BFAR website, www.bfar.org.uk, or the Bubbled website, www.bubbled.io.They should also be familiar with relevant consumer protection legislation, most of which is listed on the CAP website at www.cap.org.uk.

    1. These definitions apply to the Code:
    2. “members” means any virtual landowner, content creator, business or individual that agree to adhere to the code of conduct set out in this voluntary charter within any jurisdiction globally regardless of whether their main audience is in the UK
    3. “branded content/content” means any AR content distributed by any member and hosted on virtual land; and AR promotions on behalf of third person parties that seeks to sell products to viewers that is distributed in return for payment or some other valuable consideration to a member. The promotion of members’ own-branded activities, goods and events (such as websites, t-shirts and concerts), which enhance audience involvement and are not designed to make a profit or promote commercial partnerships, are also included.

iii. “Virtual land” means any geographical location that has a record of ownership on any distributed ledger (blockchain) for the purpose of hosting AR content

    1. The “audience” comprises all those who are likely to see branded content; and
    2. a “claim” can be implied or direct, written, spoken or visual. The name of a product can constitute a claim.
    3. ‘‘Sharing Party’’ means any person who has prepared AR content to be shared whether directly or as part of a service offered  a member. The sharing party is usually the person holding the intellectual property rights of the content.
    4. Members seeking guidance about the interpretation of Code rules should write to BFAR team at questions@bfar.org.uk.  BFAR is willing to give advice on the interpretation of the Code but cannot accept liability for loss or damage alleged to result from reliance placed on such advice. Any advice it gives is without prejudice to the right of the BFAR to investigate and act in the event of an alleged breach. BFAR can raise a potential breach of this Code with the member.
    5. When the BFAR feels a complaint is justified, it can take action with the member concerned. The BFAR can require the member to withdraw the content immediately, amend it or suspend it while investigations are carried out. The BFAR Council’s interpretation of the Code is final and its rulings are published weekly on the BFAR website, www.BFAR.org.uk.
    6. The protection of young and vulnerable audiences is always a priority. Section 5: Children should be considered for all content that:
    7. are targeted at children or likely to be of interest to them
    8. features children whether as professionals or amateurs

iii. could harmfully influence children even if not of direct interest to them.

    1. Where necessary, sections of this Code begin by stating the overarching principles and background information that inform the rules subsequently given and definitions of the key terms employed.
    2. Some rules that are to be found in Code sections dedicated to categories of products or services (such as alcoholic drinks or gambling) apply also to any branded content that includes or refers to them. Those Code sections are subdivided into “rules for all branded content” and “rules for [category of] branded content”.

Principle

The overarching principles of this Code are that content shared in augmented reality should not mislead or cause serious or widespread offence or harm, especially to children or the vulnerable and the privacy rights of owners of the physical land, virtual content is placed over are upheld. Virtual land owners and content creators are responsible for ensuring that the content they transmit complies with both the spirit and the letter of the Code. All compliance matters (copy clearance, content, geographical placement and the like) are the ultimate responsibility of each content creator and virtual land owner. The BFAR may decline to investigate where there is a dispute which, in its view, would be better resolved by another regulator or through the Courts.

Background

BFAR members must ensure that all content is cleared before distribution and is placed suitably and in accordance with BFAR’s rules on geographical placement of Branded content (Section 16: Geographical Placement).

Members must ensure that previously approved content is not re-run for subsequent campaigns without periodic checks to ensure that all claims are still accurate. Members or their respective clearance body must independently assess evidence submitted in support of shared content and any advice they have commissioned. Substantiation of factual claims made by advertisers and other supporting evidence must be held by the member or the relevant clearance body.

Rules

1.1 Branded content must reflect the spirit, not merely the letter, of the Code.

1.2 Branded content must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society.

1.3 Branded content must comply with the law and members must make that a

condition of acceptance.

1.3.1 Branded content must not state or imply that a product can legally be sold if it cannot.

 

Background

The BFAR may take the UK’s Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 into account when it rules on complaints about branded content that are alleged to be misleading. See Appendix 2 for more information about those Regulations.

The BFAR will take into account the impression created by branded content as well as specific claims. It will rule on the basis of the likely effect on consumers, not the member of the BFAR’s intentions.

Other sections of the Code contain product-specific or audience-specific rules that are intended to protect consumers from misleading branded content.

If branded content encourages consumers to buy a product or service through a distance-selling mechanism, members should seek legal advice to ensure they comply with the UK’s Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.

Rules

General

2.1 Branded content must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.

2.2 Branded content must not mislead consumers by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.

Material information is information that consumers need in context to make informed decisions about whether or how to buy a product or service. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead consumers depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the branded content is constrained by time or space, the measures that the advertiser takes to make that information available to consumers by other means.

2.3 For branded content that quote prices for a product or service, material information [for the purposes of rule 3.2] includes:

2.3.1 the main characteristics of the product or service

2.3.2 the identity (for example, a trading name) and geographical address of the marketer and any other trader on whose behalf the advertiser is acting

2.3.3 the price of the product or service, including taxes, or, if the nature of the product or service is such that the price cannot be calculated in advance, the manner in which the price is calculated

2.3.4 delivery charges

2.3.5 the arrangements for payment, delivery, performance or complaint handling, if those differ from the arrangements that consumers are likely to reasonably expect

2.3.6 that consumers have the right to withdraw or cancel, if they have that right.

2.4 Obvious exaggerations (“puffery”) and claims that the average consumer who sees the branded content is unlikely to take literally are allowed provided they do not materially mislead.

2.5 Subjective claims must not mislead the audience; branded content must not imply that expressions of opinion are objective claims.

2.6 Branded content must not mislead by omitting the identity of the person promoting the content.

Content shared for the purpose of advertising should note the law requires advertisers to identify themselves in some types of branded content. Members sharing content for the purpose of advertising should take legal advice.

2.7 Branded content must not falsely imply that the sharing party is acting as a consumer or for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession. Branded content being used for advertising must make clear their commercial intent, if that is not obvious from the context.

Substantiation

2.8 Members must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation upon request. The BFAR may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation.

Qualification

2.9 Branded content must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify.

2.10 Qualifications must be presented clearly.

Exaggeration

2.11 Branded content must not mislead by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product or service.

2.12 Branded content must not present rights given to consumers in law as a distinctive feature of the offer.

2.13 Branded content must not suggest that their claims are universally accepted if a significant division of informed or scientific opinion exists.

2.14 Branded content must not mislead about the nature or extent of the risk to consumers’ personal security, or that of their families, if they do not buy the product or service.

Prohibited claims

These rules apply regardless of any substantiation presented in support of the claims.

2.15 Branded content must not claim that a product or service is able to facilitate winning in games of chance.

2.16 Branded content must not explicitly claim that the job or livelihood of the party sharing the content is in jeopardy if consumers do not buy the advertised product or service.

Prices

Background

Price statements in branded content should take into account the UK’s Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s Guidance for traders on pricing practices.

Definition

Price statements include statements about the manner in which the price will be calculated as.

2.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product or service depicted in the branded content.

2.18 Quoted prices must include non-optional taxes, duties, fees and charges that apply to all or most buyers. However, VAT-exclusive prices may be given if all those to whom the price claim is clearly addressed pay no VAT or can recover VAT. Such VAT-exclusive prices must be accompanied by a prominent statement of the amount or rate of VAT payable.

2.19 If a tax, duty, fee or charge cannot be calculated in advance, for example, because it depends on the consumer’s circumstances, the branded content must make clear that it is excluded from the stated price and state how it is calculated.

2.20 Branded content that quote instalment costs must state the total price of the promoted product or service and the instalment frequency as prominently as the cost of individual instalments.

2.21 Branded content that state prices must also state applicable delivery, freight or postal charges or, if those cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, state that such charges are payable.

2.22 If the price of one product or service depends on another, branded content must make clear the extent of the commitment consumers must make to obtain the stated price.

2.23 Price claims such as “up to” and “from” must not exaggerate the availability or amount of benefits likely to be obtained by consumers.

‘Free’ claims

Principle

Branded content must not describe a product or service as “free”, “gratis”, “without charge” or similar if the consumer has to pay anything other than the unavoidable cost of responding to the promotion and collecting or paying for delivery of the item.

2.24 Branded content must make clear the extent of the commitment consumers must make to take advantage of a “free” offer.

Branded content must not describe items as “free” if:

2.25.1 consumers have to pay for packing, packaging, handling or administration of the “free” product or service

2.26.2 the cost of response, including the price of a product or service that consumers must buy to take advantage of the offer, has been increased, except where the increase results from factors that are unrelated to the cost of the promotion

2.27.3 the quality of the product or service that consumers must buy has been reduced.

32.28 Branded content must not describe an element of a package as “free” if that element is included in the package price, unless consumers are likely to regard it as an additional benefit because it has recently been added to the package without increasing its price.

2.29 Branded content must not use the term “free trial” to describe a “satisfaction or your money back” offer or an offer for which a non-refundable purchase is required.

Availability

2.30 Members must be satisfied that sharing parties have made a reasonable estimate of demand.

2.31 Branded content that quote prices for featured products must state any reasonable grounds the sharing parties have for believing that they might not be able to supply the product (or an equivalent) at the stated price, within a reasonable period and in reasonable quantities. In particular:

2.31.1 if estimated demand exceeds supply, branded content must make clear that stock is limited

2.32.2 if the sharing party does not intend to fulfil orders, because the purpose of the branded content is to assess potential demand, the branded content must make that clear

2.33.3 branded content must not mislead consumers by omitting restrictions on the availability of products; for example, geographical restrictions or age limits.

2.32 Consumers must be satisfied that BFAR members who promote products at specific prices will not use the technique of switch selling, in which their sales staff refuse to show the promoted product, refuse to take orders for it or to deliver it within a reasonable time or demonstrate a defective sample of it to promote a different product.

2.33 Branded content must not falsely claim that the sharing party is about to stop trading or move premises. They must not falsely state that a product or service, or the terms on which it is offered, will be available only for a very limited time to deprive consumers of the time or opportunity to make an informed choice.

2.34 Branded content must not mislead consumers about market conditions or the possibility of finding the product or service elsewhere to induce consumers to buy the product or service at conditions less favourable than normal market conditions.

 

Comparisons

Principle

The BFAR will consider unqualified superlative claims as comparative claims against all competing products or services.

Superiority claims must be supported by evidence unless they are obvious puffery (that is, claims that consumers are unlikely to take literally). Objective superiority claims must make clear the aspect of the product or service that is claimed to be superior.

Comparisons with Identifiable Competitors

2.35 Branded content that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, consumers about either the promoted product or service or the competing product or service.

2.36 Branded content must compare products or services meeting the same need or intended for the same purpose.

2.37 Branded content must objectively compare one or more material, relevant, verifiable and representative feature of those products or services, which may include price.

2.38 Branded content must not create confusion between the sharing party and its competitors or between the sharing party’s product or service, trademark, trade name or other distinguishing mark and that of a competitor.

2.39 Certain EU agricultural products and foods are, because of their unique geographical area and method of production, given special protection by being registered as having a “designation of origin”. Products that are registered as having a “designation of origin” should be compared only with other products with the same designation.

Other Comparisons

2.40 Branded content that include comparisons with unidentifiable competitors must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, consumers. The elements of the comparison must not be selected to give the sharing party an unrepresentative advantage.

Price Comparisons

2.41 Branded content that include a price comparison must make the basis of the comparison clear.

2.42 Price comparisons must not mislead by falsely claiming a price advantage. Comparisons with recommended retail prices (RRPs) are likely to mislead if the RRP differs significantly from the price at which the product or service is generally sold.

Imitation and Denigration

2.43 Branded content must not mislead consumers about who manufactures the product.

2.44 Branded content must not discredit or denigrate another product, advertiser or branded content or a trade mark, trade name or other distinguishing mark.

2.45 Branded content must not take unfair advantage of the reputation of a competitor’s trademark, trade name or other distinguishing mark or of the designation of origin of a competitor product or service.

2.46 Branded content must not present a product as an imitation or replica of a product or service with a protected trademark or trade name.

Endorsements and testimonials

Background

Branded content that include endorsements or testimonials might also be subject to Section 5: Privacy.

Rules

2.47 Testimonials or endorsements used in branded content must be genuine, unless they are obviously fictitious, and be supported by documentary evidence upon request.

Testimonials and endorsements must relate to the advertised product or service. Claims that are likely to be interpreted as factual and appear in branded content must not mislead or be likely to mislead.

2.48 Branded content must not feature testimonials without permission.

2.49 Branded content must not display a trust mark, quality mark or equivalent without the necessary authorisation. Branded content must not claim that the sharing party (or any other entity referred to in the branded content), the branded content or the promoted product or service has been approved, endorsed or authorised by any person or body if it has not or without complying with the terms of the approval, endorsement or authorisation.

2.50 Branded content must not falsely claim that the sharing party, or other entity referred to in the branded content, is a signatory to a code of conduct. Branded content must not falsely claim that a code of conduct has an endorsement from a public or other body.

Guarantees and after-sales service

2.51 Branded content must not use the word “guarantee” in a way that could cause confusion about a consumer’s rights.

2.52 Branded content must make clear each significant limitation to a stated guarantee (of the type that has implications for a consumer’s rights). Members who lease virtual land, must be satisfied that the sharing party will supply the full terms of the guarantee before the consumer is committed to taking it up.

2.53 Members who lease virtual land, must be satisfied that the sharing party will promptly refund consumers who make valid claims under any stated money-back guarantee.

2.54 Branded content must not falsely claim or imply that after-sales service is available in an EEA member state in which the promoted product or service is not sold.

2.55 If any branded content in a language other than an official language of the EEA State where the sharing party is located, offers after-sales service but the after-sales service is not available in the language of the branded content, members must be satisfied that the sharing party will explain that to consumers before a contract is concluded.

 

Principle

Content distributed virtually to augment real-world locations must not be harmful or offensive. Sharing parties must take account of generally accepted standards to minimise the risk of causing harm or serious or widespread offence. The context in which any content is likely to be virtually shared in a location must be taken into account to avoid unsuitable geographical placement (see Section 16: Geographical Placement).

Rules

3.1 Content must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18.

3.2 Content must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards.

3.3 Content must not exploit the special trust that persons under the age of 18 place in parents, guardians, teachers or other persons.

3.4 Content must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety.

3.5 Content must not include visual effects or techniques that are likely to affect adversely members of the audience with photosensitive epilepsy.

3.6 Content must not condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour or treatment. Branded content must not prejudice respect for human dignity.

3.7 Content must not condone or encourage violence, crime, disorder or anti-social behaviour.

3.8 Content must not distress the audience without justifiable reason. Branded content must not exploit the audience’s fears or superstitions

3.9 Animals must not be harmed or distressed as a result of the production of any content.

3.10 Content must not condone or encourage behaviour grossly prejudicial to the protection of the environment.

3.11 Content must not portray or represent anyone who is, or seems to be, under 18 in a sexual way. However, this rule does not apply to content whose principal function is to promote the welfare of, or to prevent harm to, under-18s, provided any sexual portrayal or representation is not excessive.

 

Principle

Children must be protected from content that could cause physical, mental or moral harm.

Background

The context in which any content is likely to be shared and the likely age of the audience must be taken into account to avoid unsuitable placements in geographical locations. Content that is suitable for older children and young persons but could distress younger children must be sensitively scheduled or placed. This section should therefore be read in conjunction with Section 16: Geographical Placement. Care must be taken when sharing content that could frighten or distress children or could otherwise be unsuitable for them; this branded content should not be placed in or around locations regularly frequented by children. Care must also be taken when featuring children in branded content.

Definitions

A child is someone under 16.

“Children’s products and services” are products or services of more or less exclusive interest to children.

“Products and services of interest to children” are products or services that are likely to appeal to children but are not of exclusive interest to them.

Rules

4.1 Branded content that is suitable for older children but could distress younger children must be sensitively placed (see Section 16: Geographical Placement).

4.2 Branded content must not condone, encourage or unreasonably feature behaviour that could be dangerous for children to emulate. Branded content must not implicitly or explicitly discredit established safety guidelines. Content must not condone, encourage or feature children going off alone or with strangers. This rule is not intended to prevent content that inform children about dangers or risks associated with potentially harmful behaviour.

4.3 Branded content must not condone or encourage practices that are detrimental to children’s health.

4.4 Branded content must not condone or encourage bullying.

4.6 Branded content must not imply that children are likely to be ridiculed, inferior to others, less popular, disloyal or have let someone down if they or their family do not use a product or service.

4.7 Branded content must not take advantage of children’s inexperience, credulity or sense of loyalty. Branded content for products or services of interest to children must not be likely to mislead; for example, by exaggerating the features of a product or service in a way that could lead to children having unrealistic expectations of that product or service.

4.8 Child actors may feature in Branded content but care must be taken to ensure that those Branded content neither mislead nor exploit children’s inexperience, credulity or sense of loyalty.

4.9 Branded content must not include a direct exhortation to children to buy or hire a product or service or to persuade their parents, guardians or other persons to buy or hire a product or service for them.

4.10 Branded content that promote a product or service and invite consumers to buy that product or service via a direct response mechanism must not be targeted directly at children. Direct-response mechanisms are those that allow consumers to place orders without face-to-face contact with the supplier.

4.11 If it includes a price, any branded content for a children’s product or service must not use qualifiers such as “only” or “just” to make the price seem less expensive.

4.12 Branded content for a toy, game or comparable children’s product must include a statement of its price or, if it is not possible to include a precise price, an approximate price.

4.13 Branded content for promotions targeted directly at children:

4.13.1 must include all significant qualifying conditions

4.13.2 must make clear if adult permission is required for children to enter. Content for competitions targeted directly at children are acceptable only if the skill required is relevant to the age of likely participants and if the values of the prizes and the chances of winning are not exaggerated.

4.14 Promotions that require a purchase to participate and include a direct exhortation to make a purchase must not be targeted directly at children. Branded content for promotions directly targeted at children should comply with Section 14: Competitions.

 

Principle

Living individuals should be protected from unwarranted infringements of privacy. BFAR members should respect an individual’s right to his or her private and family life, home and correspondence. Content featuring an individual or placed near a location frequented by an individual should not imply that that individual endorses a product if he or she does not (see Section 3: Misleading Branded content). The owners of a real-world location should have the opportunity to purchase the virtual land counterpart even if the land has already been purchased by a member.

Rules

5.1 With limited exceptions, living persons must not be featured, caricatured or referred to in content without their permission.

Exceptions are made only for brief and incidental appearances, such as crowd scenes, and content that refers to a person featured in publications, programmes, films and the like, providing that the reference to or portrayal of that person is neither offensive nor defamatory.

5.2 If approached by the real-world owner of a site whose virtual land counterpart has been purchased by a member; the virtual landowner will always offer to sell the virtual land at a price agreeable by both parties. The members should always offer a fair market value based on current market demands, however BFAR will not determine this value. This rule is only here to give real-world landowners the opportunity to own the virtual land, to protect potential issues of privacy which all members agree to uphold.

5.3 When gathering and sharing customer data, member must adhere to the principles and guidelines regarding data protection of our customers as set out by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

 

Background

The UK’s Communications Act 2003 prohibits political promotional content. The term “political” is used in the Code in a wider sense than “party political”. The prohibition includes, for example, campaigning for the purposes of influencing legislation or executive action by local or national (including foreign) governments. The definitions of “political” are set out in section 321 of the Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”). The relevant parts of that section are reproduced below in Rule 7.2.

Responsibility for the application of the rules that prohibit “political” content and whether a sharing party and/or the content of any such content is caught by the prohibition has not been contracted out to BFAR. This responsibility remains with Ofcom. The BFAR therefore refers all such matters to Ofcom.

Rules

6.1 Content that contravenes the prohibition on political content set out below must not be shared on the virtual land of any member:

6.1.1 Any content contravenes the prohibition on political content if it is:

  1. a) any content which is inserted by or on behalf of a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature;
  2. b) any content which is directed towards a political end; or
  3. c) any content which has a connection with an industrial dispute.

6.1.2 For the purposes of this section objects of a political nature and political ends include each of the following:

  1. a) influencing the outcome of elections or referendums, whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere;
  2. b) bringing about changes of the law in the whole or a part of the United Kingdom or elsewhere, or otherwise influencing the legislative process in any country or territory;
  3. c) influencing the policies or decisions of local, regional or national governments, whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere;
  4. d) influencing the policies or decisions of persons on whom public functions are conferred by or under the law of the United Kingdom or of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom;
  5. e) influencing the policies or decisions of persons on whom functions are conferred by or under international agreements;
  6. f) influencing public opinion on a matter which, in the United Kingdom, is a matter of public controversy;
  7. g) promoting the interests of a party or other group of persons organised, in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, for political ends.

6.1.3 Provision included by virtue of this section in standards set under section 319 [of the Act] is not to apply to, or to be construed as prohibiting the inclusion in a programme service of:

  1. a) any content of a public service nature inserted by, or on behalf of, a government department; or
  2. b) a party political or referendum campaign broadcast the inclusion of which is required by a condition imposed under section 333 [of the Act] or by paragraph 18 of Schedule 12 to the Act.

 

Background

Most business-to-consumer distance selling contracts will be subject to the UK’s Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation, and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. Contracts that wholly consist of exempt activities are not subject to the Regulations. These exemptions relate to:

  • gambling;
  • banking, credit, insurance, personal pension, investment or payment services
  • the creation of or rights in immovable property;
  • residential rental agreements;
  • construction of new or substantially new buildings;
  • foodstuffs, beverages or goods intended for regular, general household consumption;
  • package holidays, tours or travel; and
  • certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange contracts.

BFAR members should seek legal advice to ensure they comply with the Regulations as this is outside the scope of this Code.

Definitions

The rules in this section apply to branded content that promote specific products or services and invite consumers to buy those products or services, without meeting the supplier face-to-face, by means of direct response mechanisms, except branded content for

  1. a) the sale of land
  2. b) the construction of a building, if that includes the sale of land

Sharing Parties are the advertisers of all products and services that are promoted in their services.

These rules should be read in conjunction with other rules in this Code, especially the rules of availability in Section 2: Misleading Branded content and, for branded content that quote prices, rule 2.3.

Rules

7.1 Members leasing virtual land must be able to give consumers the sharing party’s name and geographical address for complaints if that information is not included in the branded content.

7.2 Members must be satisfied that the sharing party:

7.2.1 have made adequate arrangements to protect consumers’ money

7.2.2 can take enquiries during normal business hours

7.2.3 tell consumers if they intend to supply substitute products or services if the promoted product or service becomes unavailable

7.2.4 fulfil orders within 30 days unless:

  1. a) the nature of the product or service makes it reasonable to specify a longer period in the content; for example, content for made- to-measure products, plants that are out of season, or products or services that are supplied on an instalment basis may reasonably specify a longer period or
  2. b) a longer performance period has been agreed with the consumer

7.2.5 give refunds in accordance with rule 8.4

7.2.6 will not seek payment for products or services that are supplied without the recipient’s authority

7.2.7 inform consumers about their cancellation rights.

7.3 Sharing party’s must give refunds within 30 days if the consumer cancels, for any reason, within seven days of receiving goods or seven clear days from the conclusion of a contract for services, unless:

  1. a) performance of the service has already begun, with the consumer’s agreement
  2. b) the price of the product or service is dependent on fluctuations in the financial market beyond the control of the sharing party
  3. c) the product is perishable, personalised or made-to-measure
  4. d) the product is an audio or video recording or computer software unsealed by the consumer
  5. e) the product is a newspaper, periodical or magazine
  6. f) the service is a betting, gaming or lottery service.

7.4 Sharing party’s must give a refund if the consumer can show reasonable cause for dissatisfaction with the product or service or delay in delivery. Except for substitute goods supplied in place of the goods that the consumer ordered, and faulty goods, sharing party’s may require consumers to pay the direct cost of returning goods ordered through a distance selling mechanism if the consumers were informed before the contract was concluded that they would be liable for the cost of returning unwanted goods.

7.5 This rule must be read in conjunction with Directive (EC) No 2010/30/EU and the Energy Information Regulations 2011 on labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products and its subsequent delegated regulations. The Directive introduces an information and labelling framework whereby delegated regulations will detail which products need to contain an energy efficiency rating or fiche. The rule only applies to products which are subject to a delegated regulation.

For more information on delegated regulations, go to http://ec.europa.eu/energy.

Sharing parties must make product fiche information available about products that fall under delegated regulations to consumers before commitment.

 

Background

Branded content should take account of UK Government guidance including the Green Claims Code published by DEFRA and BIS.

Rules

8.1 The basis of environmental claims must be clear. Unqualified claims could mislead if they omit significant information.

8.2 The meaning of all terms used in content must be clear to consumers.

8.3 Absolute claims must be supported by a high level of substantiation. Comparative claims such as “greener” or “friendlier” can be justified, for example, if the promoted product or service provides a total environmental benefit over that of the sharing party’s previous product or service or competitor products or services and the basis of the comparison is clear.

8.4 Environmental claims must be based on the full life cycle of the promoted product or service, unless the content states otherwise, and must make clear the limits of the life cycle. If a general claim cannot be justified, a more limited claim about specific aspects of a product or service might be justifiable. Claims that are based on only part of a promoted product or service’s life cycle must not mislead consumers about the product or service’s total environmental impact.

8.5 Content must not suggest that their claims are universally accepted if a significant division of informed or scientific opinion exists.

8.6 If a product or service has never had a demonstrably adverse effect on the environment, content must not imply that the formulation has changed to improve the product or service in the way claimed. Content may, however, claim that a product or service has always been designed in a way that omits an ingredient or process known to harm the environment.

8.7 Content must not mislead consumers about the environmental benefit that a product or service offers; for example, by highlighting the absence of an environmentally damaging ingredient if that ingredient is not usually found in competing products or services by highlighting an environmental benefit that results from a legal obligation if competing products are subject to the same requirements.

8.8 This rule must be read in conjunction with Directive (EC) No 2010/30/EU and the Energy Information Regulations 2011 on labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products and its subsequent delegated regulations. The Directive introduces an information and labelling framework whereby delegated regulations will detail which products need to contain an energy efficiency rating or fiche. The rule only applies to products which are subject to a delegated regulation.

For more information on delegated regulations, go to http://ec.europa.eu/energy.

Content for specific energy-related products, subject to a delegated regulation, that include energy-related information or disclose price information must include a reference to the product’s energy efficiency class i.e. in the range A+++ to G.

8.9 This rule must be read in conjunction with Directive (EC) No 2010/30/EU and the Energy Information Regulations 2011 on labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products and its subsequent delegated regulations. The Directive introduces an information and labelling framework whereby delegated regulations will detail which products need to contain an energy efficiency rating or fiche. The rule only applies to products which are subject to a delegated regulation.

For more information on delegated regulations, go to http://ec.europa.eu/energy.

Sharing parties must make product fiche information available about products that fall under delegated regulations to consumers before commitment.

 

 

Principle

Sharing content for some products or services are not permitted either because those products may not legally be advertised or because of a clear potential for harm or serious or widespread offence to the audience or to society.

Background

There are other unacceptable and restricted categories of content not listed in this Section, which can be found in these sections: Political and Controversial Matters (Section 6); Children (Section 4); Instructional Courses (Section 12) and Pornography (Section 15).

Rules

9.1 Sharing content for products or services coming within the recognised character of or specifically concerned with these are not acceptable:

9.1.1 breath-testing devices and products that are intended to mask the effects of alcohol

9.1.2 betting systems and products that are intended to facilitate winning games of chance

9.1.3 all tobacco products. Also non-tobacco products or services that share a name, emblem or other feature with a tobacco product (as provided for by rule 10.4), rolling papers and filters. This rule does not apply to sharing content for products which are regulated by section 33

9.1.4 guns (including replica guns), gun clubs and offensive weapons. “Offensive weapons” are items made or adapted to cause injury. References to clay pigeon shoots are permitted only as part of a wider range of outdoor pursuits

9.1.5 prostitution and sexual  massage services

9.1.6 obscene material. “Obscene material” is material that offends against the UK’s Obscene Publications Act 1959 (as amended)

9.1.7 products for the treatment of alcohol and illegal-substance dependence. Services offering treatment of alcohol and illegal-substance dependence are acceptable if they comply with rule 11.10

9.1.8 pyramid promotional schemes. “Pyramid promotional schemes” are those in which consumers pay or give other consideration for the opportunity to receive compensation that is derived primarily from the introduction of other consumers into the scheme, not the sale or consumption of products

9.1.9 the acquisition or disposal of units in collective investment schemes not authorised or recognised by the UK’s financial regulator, the FCA, without the prior approval of BFAR.

9.1.10 Escort  agencies

9.1.11 electronic cigarettes and refill containers or any shared content which has the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting such a product

For the purposes of this rule:

Electronic cigarette means a product that can be used for the consumption of nicotine-containing vapour via a mouthpiece, or any component of that product, including a cartridge, a tank and the device without cartridge or tank (regardless of whether it is disposable or refillable by means of a refill container and a tank, or rechargeable with single use cartridges), but is not a medicinal product within the meaning of regulation 2 of the UK’s Human Medicines Regulations 2012 or medical device within the meaning of regulation 2 of the UK’s Medical Devices Regulations 2002.

A refill container means a receptacle that contains a nicotine-containing liquid, which can be used to refill an electronic cigarette, but is not a medicinal product within the meaning of regulation 2 of the UK’s Human Medicines Regulations 2012 or medical device within the meaning of regulation 2 of the UK’s Medical Devices Regulations 2002.

This rule is not intended to prohibit sharing content for (i) nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes which are licensed as medicines or medical devices [as described above], (ii) non-nicotine-containing liquids and refill containers, (iii) non-nicotine-containing disposable e-cigarettes and (iv) rechargeable e-cigarettes which are designed to be fitted only with cartridges containing non-nicotine containing e-liquid. Such products may be promoted subject to all relevant rules in the BFAR Code, including those in Sections 4 and 16.

9.2 No shared content may indirectly promote an unacceptable product or service. For example, shared content must not refer the audience to a website or a publication if a significant part of that website or publication promotes a prohibited product or service.

Tobacco

These rules do not apply to sharing content for products which are regulated by sections 4 and 16.

9.3 Shared content must not promote smoking or the use of tobacco products.

9.4 If it shares a name, emblem or other feature with a tobacco product, a non- tobacco product or service may be promoted only if the shared content is obviously directly targeted at an adult audience, makes or implies no reference to smoking or to a tobacco product, does not promote tobacco or smoking and does not include a design, colour, imagery, logo style or the like that might be associated in the audience’s mind with a tobacco product.

9.5 Shared content that might be of particular interest to children or teenagers must not refer to tobacco or smoking, unless that reference obviously forms part of an anti-smoking or anti-drugs message.

 

 

Principle

The rules in this section are designed to ensure that content related to gambling are socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect under-18s and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by content that features or promotes gambling.

Background

The legal framework for gambling in Great Britain, including the requirements for licensing operators, is set out in the UK’s Gambling Act 2005 (as amended).

The Gambling Act 2005 does not apply outside Great Britain. Licensees should ensure that specialist legal advice is sought when considering promotional content related to any gambling product or service in Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands.

Spread betting may be advertised as an investment activity under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (as amended) (FSMA), the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2005 (as amended) and in accordance with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Handbook. A “spread bet” is a contract for differences that is a gaming contract, as defined in the glossary to the FCA Handbook.

These rules are not intended to inhibit branded content to counter problem gambling that are responsible and unlikely to promote a brand or type of gambling.

Please refer to Section 16: Geographical Placement for rules on the placement of gambling related AR content.

Definitions

The term “gambling” means gaming and betting, as defined in the Gambling Act 2005, and spread betting.

The rules in this section apply to branded content for “play for money” gambling products and branded content for “play for free” gambling products that offer the chance to win a prize or that explicitly or implicitly direct the consumer to a “play for money” gambling product.

Unless they portray or refer to gambling, this section does not apply to branded content for non- gambling leisure events or facilities, for example, hotels, cinemas, bowling alleys or ice rinks, that are in the same complex as, but separate from, gambling events or facilities.

Rules

10.1 Branded content for events or facilities that can be accessed only by entering gambling premises must make that condition clear.

Rules for all branded content

10.2 Branded content must not:

10.2.1 portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm

10.2.2 suggest that gambling can provide an escape from personal, professional or educational problems such as loneliness or depression

10.2.3 suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security

10.2.4 portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life; for example, over family, friends or professional or educational commitments

10.2.5 suggest peer pressure to gamble or disparage abstention

10.2.6 suggest that gambling can enhance personal qualities; for example, that it can improve self-image or self-esteem, or is a way to gain control, superiority, recognition or admiration

10.2.7 link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness

10.2.8 portray gambling in a context of toughness or link it to resilience or recklessness

10.2.9 suggest gambling is a rite of passage

10.2.10 suggest that solitary gambling is preferable to social gambling.

Rules for promotional gambling content

10.3 Branded content for gambling must not:

10.3.1 exploit cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck

10.3.2 condone or encourage criminal or anti-social behaviour

10.3.3 condone or feature gambling in a working environment (an exception exists for licensed gambling premises)

10.3.4 exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of under-18s or other vulnerable persons

10.3.5 be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture

10.3.6 feature anyone who is, or seems to be, under 25 years old gambling or playing a significant role. No-one may behave in an adolescent, juvenile or loutish way.

10.4 Branded content for family entertainment centres, travelling fairs, horse racecourses and dog racetracks, and for non-gambling leisure facilities that incidentally refer to separate gambling facilities as part of a list of facilities on, for example, a cruise ship, may include under-18s provided they are accompanied by an adult and are socialising responsibly in areas that the Gambling Act 2005 (as amended) does not restrict by age.

 

Principle

Branded content for alcoholic drinks should not be targeted at people under 18 years of age or placed in locations frequented by children and should not imply, condone or encourage immoderate, irresponsible or anti-social drinking.

The spirit as well as the letter of the rules in this section applies.

Definitions

The rules in this section apply to branded content for alcoholic drinks and branded content that feature or refer to alcoholic drinks. Alcoholic drinks are defined as those containing at least 0.5% alcohol; for the purposes of this Code low-alcohol drinks are defined as drinks containing between 0.5% and 1.2% alcohol.

Where stated, exceptions are made for low-alcohol drinks. But, if any branded content for a low- alcohol drink could be considered to promote a stronger alcoholic drink or if the low-alcohol content of a drink is not stated clearly in the branded content, all the rules in this section apply.

If a soft drink is promoted as a mixer, the rules in this section apply in full.

The rules are not intended to inhibit responsible content that is intended to counter problem drinking or tell consumers about alcohol-related health or safety themes. Those types of content should not be likely to promote an alcohol product or brand.

Rules

Rules that apply to all branded content

11.1 Branded content must not feature, imply, condone or encourage irresponsible or immoderate drinking. That applies to both the amount of drink and the way drinking is portrayed.

References to, or suggestions of, buying repeat rounds of alcoholic drinks are not acceptable. That does not prevent, for example, someone buying a drink for each member of a group. It does, however, prevent any suggestion that other members of the group will buy a round.

11.2 Branded content must neither imply that alcohol can contribute to an individual’s popularity or confidence nor imply that alcohol can enhance personal qualities

11.3 Branded content must not imply that drinking alcohol is a key component of social success or acceptance or that refusal is a sign of weakness. Content must not imply that the success of a social occasion depends on the presence or consumption of alcohol.

11.4 Branded content must not link alcohol with daring, toughness, aggression or unruly, irresponsible or antisocial behaviour.

11.5 Branded content must not link alcohol with sexual activity, sexual success or seduction or imply that alcohol can enhance attractiveness. That does not preclude linking alcohol with romance or flirtation.

11.6 Branded content must not portray alcohol as indispensable or as taking priority in life. Branded content must not imply that drinking can overcome problems or that regular solitary drinking is acceptable

11.7 Branded content must not imply that alcohol has therapeutic qualities. Alcohol must not be portrayed as capable of changing mood, physical condition or behaviour or as a source of nourishment. Although they may refer to refreshment, content must not imply that alcohol can improve any type of performance.

11.8 Branded content must not link alcohol to illicit drugs.

11.9 Branded content may give factual information about the alcoholic strength of a drink. They may also make a factual alcohol strength comparison with another product, but only when the comparison is with a higher-strength product of a similar beverage.

Branded content must not imply that a drink may be preferred because of its alcohol content or intoxicating effect. There is an exception for low-alcohol drinks, which may be presented as preferable because of their low alcoholic strength.

In the case of a drink with relatively high alcoholic strength in relation to its category, the factual information should not be given undue emphasis.

11.10 Branded content may include alcohol promotions but must not imply, condone or encourage immoderate drinking.

11.11 Branded content must not feature alcohol being handled or served irresponsibly.

11.12 Branded content must not link alcohol with the use of potentially dangerous machinery or driving.

Branded content may feature sporting and other physical activities (subject to other rules in this section) but must not imply that those activities have been undertaken after the consumption of alcohol.

11.13 Branded content must not normally show alcohol being drunk by anyone in their

working environment.

Rules that apply to alcohol related content

11.14 Alcohol related content must not:

11.15 be likely to appeal strongly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture or showing adolescent or juvenile behaviour

11.16.1 include a person or character whose example is likely to be followed by those aged under 18 years or who has a strong appeal to those aged under 18.

11.17 Alcohol related content must not feature in a significant role anyone who is, or seems to be, under 25 and must not feature children.

An exception is made for content that feature families socialising responsibly. Here, children may be included but they should have an incidental role only and anyone who seems to be under the age of 25 must be obviously not drinking alcohol.

11.18 Branded content for alcoholic drinks may give factual statements about product contents, including comparisons, but must not make any health claims, which include fitness or weight-control claims.

The only permitted nutrition claims are “low alcohol”, “reduced alcohol” and “reduced energy” and any claim likely to have the same meaning for the audience.

 

Principle

Instructional course shared content must neither mislead the audience nor exploit the susceptibilities or credulity of those seeking work.

Definition

Instructional courses are training or educational opportunities that typically offer instruction in a trade.

Rules

12.1 Shared content offering a qualification, a course of instruction in a skill or a course that leads to a professional or technical examination must not exaggerate the resulting opportunities for work or remuneration.

12.2 Shared content for a correspondence school or college may be distributed only if the sharing party has given the member evidence of suitable and relevant credentials: for example, affiliation to a body that has systems for dealing with complaints and for taking disciplinary action; systems in place for regular review of members’ skills and competencies and registration based on minimum standards for training and qualifications.

 

Background

Members should take care to comply with Section 1: Compliance – in particular rule 1.2 on social responsibility and Section 4: Harm and Offence.

For information on the Data Protection Act 1998 go to: www.ico.gov.uk.

Rules

13.1 All claims relating to matching require substantiation.

13.2 Shared content must not dwell excessively on loneliness or suggest that people without a partner are inadequate.

13.3 Members leasing their virtual land must satisfy themselves that the sharing party gives customer’s clear advice on precautions to take when meeting people through any shared content for an introduction or dating agency.

13.4 Sharing and promoting content for an introduction or dating agency must not have particular appeal to people under 18. See Section 16: Geographical Placement.

 

 

Rule

14.1 Competitions should be conducted fairly, prizes should be described accurately

and rules should be clear and made known.

 

Definition

“R-18 material” is classified as such by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC): the BBFC’s definition of the R-18 category appears on its website (www.bbfc.co.uk). The BBFC is responsible for classifying “video works”, which are defined by, and subject to restriction under, the UK’s Video Recordings Act 1984.

Rules

15.1 Sharing content for products coming within the recognised character of pornography is not permitted.

15.1.1 Sharing content must not feature R18-rated material or its equivalent.

 

Principle

BFAR members, both virtual land owners and sharing parties, must take special care when geographically placing content near locations that is regularly frequented by children that might be unsuitable for children or young persons.

Content and interactive AR touchpoints

When deciding whether content has, or is likely to have particular appeal to children or young persons, BFAR would consider, for example, the nature or subject of the content or the nature or subject of AR interactive prompts that have led or are likely to lead the child or young person directly to that location.

Rules

Placement of branded content

16.1 Members must exercise responsible judgement on the placement of branded content and operate internal systems capable of identifying and avoiding unsuitable juxtapositions between AR content material and geographical locations, especially those that could distress or offend viewers.

16.2 Content promoting the following may not be placed in or adjacent to locations principally frequented by or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 18:

16.2.1 alcoholic drinks containing 1.2% alcohol or more by volume

16.2.2 gambling except lotteries, football pools, equal-chance gaming (under a prize gaming permit or at a licensed family entertainment centre), prize gaming (at a non-licensed family entertainment centre or at a travelling fair) or Category D gaming machines 

16.2.3 betting tipsters

16.2.4 slimming products, treatments or establishments

16.2.6 electronic cigarettes.

16.3 Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to content that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them.

16.4 Content promoting the following may not be placed in or adjacent to locations principally frequented by or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 16:

16.4.1 football pools

16.4.2 equal-chance gaming (under a prize gaming permit or at a licensed family entertainment centre)

16.4.3 prize gaming (at a non-licensed family entertainment centre or at a travelling fair)

16.4.4 Category D gaming machines

16.4.5 medicines, vitamins or other dietary supplements

16.4.6 drinks containing less than 1.2% alcohol by volume when presented as low-alcohol or no-alcohol versions of an alcoholic drink

16.4.8 computer or console games carrying an 18+, 16+ or 15+ rating, including those that have not yet been classified, but which are expected by the publisher to secure a 15, 16+ or 18-rating.

Other placement of branded content restrictions children

16.5 Content promoting the following may not be placed in or adjacent to locations principally frequented by or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 16:

16.5.1 food or drink products that are assessed as high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) in accordance with the nutrient profiling scheme published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on 6 December 2005. Information on the nutrient profiling scheme is now available on the Department of Health website at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-nutrient-profiling-model

16.5.2 matches

16.5.3 trailers for films or videos carrying an 18-certificate or 15-certificate

 

1 Member States shall ensure that audiovisual commercial communications provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction comply with the following requirements:

  1. a) audiovisual commercial communications shall be readily recognisable as such. Surreptitious audiovisual commercial communication shall be prohibited;
  2. b) audiovisual commercial communications shall not use subliminal techniques;
  3. c) audiovisual commercial communications shall not: i.prejudice respect for human dignity;

ii.include or promote any discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, nationality, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation; iii.encourage behaviour prejudicial to health or safety;

iv.encourage behaviour grossly prejudicial to the protection of the environment;

  1. d) all forms of audiovisual commercial communications for cigarettes and other tobacco products shall be prohibited;
  2. e) audiovisual commercial communications for alcoholic beverages shall not be aimed specifically at minors and shall not encourage immoderate consumption of such beverages;
  3. f) audiovisual commercial communication for medicinal products and medical treatment available only on prescription in the member State within whose jurisdiction the media service provider falls shall be prohibited;
  4. g) audiovisual commercial communications shall not cause physical or moral detriment to minors. Therefore they shall not directly exhort minors to buy or hire a product or service by exploiting their inexperience or credulity, directly encourage them to persuade their parents or others to purchase the goods or services being advertised, exploit the special trust minors place in parents, teachers or other persons, or unreasonably show minors in dangerous situations.

 

Background

As well as this Code, branded content is subject to legislation. See www.cap.org.uk for a non- exhaustive list.

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (the CPRs)

One important piece of legislation is the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs). For the purpose of the Regulations and in this Appendix, “consumers” refers to individuals acting outside the course of their business. The CPRs prohibit unfair promotional content to consumers, including misleading or aggressive promotional content. Whenever it considers complaints that any branded content misleads consumers or is unfair or aggressive to consumers, the BFAR will have regard to the CPRs. That means it will take factors identified in the CPRs into account when it considers whether certain branded content has breached the BFAR Code. Relevant principles established in the CPRs are summarised below. The summary is not an exhaustive statement of the effect of the CPRs and licensees who would like detailed guidance on the CPRs, as opposed to the Code, should seek legal advice.

Many rules in this Code prohibit misleading branded content. All rules that refer to misleading branded content should be read, in relation to business-to-consumer branded content, in conjunction with this summary:

Consumers

The likely effect of any branded content is generally considered from the point of view of the average consumer who it reaches or to whom it is addressed. The average consumer is assumed to be reasonably well-informed, observant and circumspect. In some circumstances, branded content may be considered from the point of view of the average member of a specific group:

  • If the content is directed to a particular group, the content will be considered from the point of view of the average member of that group.
  • If any branded content is likely to affect the economic behaviour only of an identifiable group of people who are especially vulnerable, in a way that the sharing party could reasonably foresee, because of for example, mental or physical infirmity, age or credulity, the branded content will be considered from the point of view of the average member of the affected group.

Misleading branded content

Branded content are considered misleading if they are likely to deceive consumers and

are likely to cause consumers to take transactional decisions that they would not

otherwise have taken.

“Transactional decisions” are consumers’ decisions about whether to buy, pay for, exercise contractual rights in relation to, keep or dispose of goods or services. They include decisions to act and decisions not to act.

Branded content can mislead consumers even if they do not include false information; for example, they can deceive through presentation or by omitting important information that consumers need to make an informed transactional decision.

Aggressive branded content

Branded content is considered to be aggressive if, taking all circumstances into account, they

are likely to significantly impair the average consumer’s freedom of choice through harassment, coercion or undue influence and

  • are likely to cause consumers to take transactional decisions they would not otherwise have taken.

Unfair branded content

Branded content is considered to be unfair if they

  • are contrary to the requirements of professional diligence and
  • are likely to materially distort the economic behaviour of consumers in relation to the advertised goods or services.

 

The  UK’s Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 (the BPRs)

Business-to-business promotional content are subject to the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 (the BPRs). Under the BPRs, any promotional content is misleading if it:

in any way, including its presentation, deceives or is likely to deceive the traders to whom it is addressed or whom it reaches and by reason of its deceptive nature, is likely to affect their economic behaviour

  • or, for those reasons, injures or is likely to injure a competitor.

The BPRs also set out the conditions under which comparative branded content, directed at either consumers or businesses, are permitted. This Code incorporates those conditions.