CAP publishes guidance on country of origin claims

Published on 25 November 2021

What do companies need to be mindful of when it comes to country of origin claims?

The key takeaway
It is important to be clear and upfront with consumers regarding the country of origin of products. Misusing British imagery or misleading as to UK company status will get unfavourable attention from the ASA.

The background
Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, there has been an uptick in British consumers looking to support the UK economy by purchasing products manufactured in the UK from British based companies. The onus is very much on the brand to ensure that the consumer is properly informed about the country of origin and that advertisements properly comply with the advertising codes.

The development
In September 2021, CAP produced three key pieces of guidance for companies to assist with country of origin claims. The guidance is as follows:

  • companies should not hold themselves out as a UK company if this is not the case. While there is nothing wrong with companies using a domain name or presenting prices in GBP if they are not based in the UK, they must ensure that material information with regards to the geographical location of the company is made clear. Furthermore, caution should be taken not to present a company as being entirely UK based in situations where a company is UK registered but the processing of orders/shipping of orders occurs from outside the UK. Finally, and quite obviously, care should be taken to ensure that consumers are not misled regarding the origin of a product. Phrases such as made in Britain, grown in Britain, built in Britain should not be used if this is not the case
  • careful use of national flags and emblems is encouraged. Marketers may use national flags and emblems in marketing communications, provided that in doing so consumers are not misled about a products country of origin
  • ensure you have the requisite permissions before using Royal Arms and Emblems. Rule 3.52 highlights that marketers that want to use Royal Arms or Emblems must not do so without permission from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office. Any feature of the Royal Arms or

Emblems is likely to strongly imply an official endorsement and so marketers should ensure that they have the requisite permissions before including such marks.

Why is this important?
This advice clarifies the rules regarding country of origin claims and reinforces what will be seen as non-compliant. With companies looking to capitalise on a wave of support for British products, now is the time to ensure that the marketing teams don’t get a little loose in making more of a “British” connection than is actually there.

Any practical tips?
Companies should ensure that they are upfront with consumers about the country of origin of their products and from where products are being shipped. This is not to say that marketers cannot be creative in their use of British themes, however this needs to be done in a way that ensures that consumers are fully aware of where the product originated.

Autumn 2021

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