How are advertising standards regulated in Canada?

On April 23, EACA took part in the second ‘Fireside Chat’ organised by the International Advertising Association and discussing Canada’s system of advertising self-regulation was discussed.

The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (Code) was created in 1957 by the advertising industry to ensure the integrity and vitality of advertising in Canada. The Code is administered by Advertising Standards Canada (ASC), the industry body committed to creating and maintaining community confidence in advertising.

The Code sets out the criteria for acceptable advertising and forms the basis on which complaints from consumers, trade or interest groups are responded to. Complaints submitted by consumers to ASC about advertising that allegedly does not comply with the Code are investigated and adjudicated by (national and regional) Consumer Response Councils. These councils are entirely independent of the ASC to ensure the objectivity of its decisions.

The Code is widely supported by the industry and is designed to help establish and maintain standards of honesty, truth, accuracy, fairness, and equity in advertising. Therefore, advertisers and their representatives must promptly substantiate their advertising claims when requested to do so by a Council.

The Code applies to “advertising” by advertisers promoting the use of goods and services; companies, organisations or institutions seeking to enhance their public image or promote a point of view; governments and government departments. However, political, and electoral advertising and foreign media are excluded from the application of the Code.

The Code is not intended to replace the many laws and guidelines designed to regulate advertising in Canada. The Code’s primary purpose is to set Canadian standards in advertising, which, if followed, should lead to responsible but effective advertising.