HomeInsightsNew BCAP guidance on superimposed text comes into force

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Last year, the ASA and the Broadcasting Committee of Advertising Practice carried out viewer research, which fed into a review (and tightening up) of the BCAP guidance on superimposed text (supers) in TV ads. The new guidance came into force on 1 March 2019.

BCAP explains that the research suggested that big changes were needed. Supers that are too long, in poor contrast with underlying creative or too complex, are among those likely to fall the wrong side of the line if the effect is to mislead viewers. This means that advertisers need to take greater care with how they present qualifying information in their TV ads. Virtually all sectors are likely to be affected by the new standards with some, like financial services and telecoms, affected quite considerably.

Advertisers should therefore make sure they are clear on what the changes mean for their ads by reading the guidance. Broadly, the ASA will expect: i) lesser reliance on supers overall, in particular, where there is a complex offering or product; and ii) clearer presentation.

More specifically:

  • particularly significant qualifying information should be given sufficient emphasis, which may include holding certain information on screen for longer;
  • a stricter approach to contrast between the supers and background should be taken;
  • use of shadowing and edging effects to improve legibility will be further discouraged owing to its potential to blur text;
  • greater care should be taken over the choice of typeface to avoid the use of “stretched”, elongated text;
  • supers should be placed at the bottom of the screen and centered;
  • shorter, centered supers are preferable to the use of full-line supers;
  • advertisers must take care to avoid a detrimental impact on viewers when their attention is drawn to other ad content, including imagery or written messaging, at the same time as a super; and
  • where numbers are presented in a super, viewers should not be expected to make additional calculations in order to have full understanding of the information presented.

While the guidance applies to all TV ads from 1 March, the ASA will seek to resolve matters informally rather than resorting to formal rulings until 1 September 2019, to give advertisers time to adjust to the new requirements.  To read BCAP’s press release in full and for a link to the guidance, click here.