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New code that cracks old failings

There is no doubt that the level of charity promotional tie-ins was dampened down by the 1988 Code of Sales Promotion Practice. In line with the Charities Act, which was passed at the time, it sought to ensure that promoters would remunerate the charity to the full level of redemption within a scheme.

Effectively, promoters would have to sign a blank cheque, agreeing to pay for every single label returned by consumers, for example, even if the total far exceeded the original target. Over-redemption insurance which is usually drawn on in such cases was not applicable, because the cost was in the form of a payment to a third party.

With the new code launched in January this year, an important change was made that frees up the room for manoeuvre. “It hasn’t really leaked out, but the latest code effectively overturns all of that,” says Peter le Conte, chairman of the ISP. “That could mean renewed interest in running charity promotions again.”

The section of the code relating to charity-linked promotions is section 42.1, listed in full below. The crucial element is paragraph D, covering the capping of donations.

“Promotions claiming that participation will benefit registered charities or good causes should:

a) Name each charity or good cause that will benefit, and be able to demonstrate to the ASA that those benefitting consent to the advertising or promotion.

b) When it is not a registered charity, define its nature and objectives.

c) Specify exactly what will be gained by the named charity or cause and state the basis on which the contribution will be calculated.

d) State if the promoters have imposed any limitations on the contribution they will make out of their own pocket.

e) Not limit consumers’ contributions; any extra money collected should be given to the named charity or cause on the same basis as contributions below that level.

f) Not exaggerate the benefit to the charity or cause derived from individual purchases of the promoted product.

g) If asked, make available to consumers a current or final total of contributions made.

h) Take particular care when appealing to children.