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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly-asked questions about ASC, the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards and advertising self-regulation.

What is Advertising Standards Canada (ASC)?

ASC is the Canadian advertising industry self-regulatory body. We are a not-for-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors that includes representation from Canadian advertisers, advertising agencies, media organizations and the public. Our mission is to ensure the integrity and viability of advertising through industry self-regulation.

Who are ASC’s members?

We have more than 170 members. They include leading Canadian advertisers, advertising agencies, media organizations and suppliers to the advertising sector. To view a list of current ASC members, click here.

Why was ASC founded?

ASC was founded (as the Canadian Advertising Advisory Board) in 1957 by the Canadian advertising industry to foster the ethical practice of advertising. For more historical information about ASC and industry self-regulation, click here.) ASC is responsible for administering the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards.

What is the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (Code)?

The Code is the Canadian advertising industry’s principal instrument of self-regulation. It was created by the advertising industry in 1963 and is regularly updated to ensure it remains vital, current, and relevant within contemporary Canadian society. The Code contains 14 clauses that set the criteria for acceptable advertising.

To learn more about the Code and key guidelines, click here.

What type of advertising is covered by the Code?

The Code applies to advertising of products and services in any Canadian medium (i.e., radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, billboard, Internet, flyers, etc.).

Is there any Canadian advertising that is not covered by the Code?

The Code does not apply to:

  • packaging, wrappers and labels
  • political and election advertising
  • foreign media (namely media that originate outside Canada and contain the advertising in question) unless the advertiser is a Canadian person or entity

What is the Consumer Complaint Procedure?

Responding to consumers’ complaints about advertising provides consumers with tangible evidence of the advertising industry’s commitment to dealing with their concerns. In keeping with this commitment, ASC administers the Consumer Complaint Procedure on behalf of the Canadian advertising industry.

While ASC accepts and responds to consumer complaints about advertising, the complaints are reviewed under the provisions of the Code by independent, volunteer bodies called Standards Councils.

Who sits on the Councils?

The Councils include senior representatives from the advertising industry and the public who volunteer their time to support the Consumer Complaint Procedure.

What happens if Council determines that an ad contravenes the Code?

Council will ask the advertiser to amend the ad or withdraw it.

What happens if an advertiser or a consumer disagrees with Council’s decision about an ad that a consumer has complained about? What can the advertiser or consumer do?

If an advertiser or a consumer disagrees with Council’s decision, either party can file a Request for Appeal.

What are the Ad Complaints Reports?

The Ad Complaints Reports contain case summaries about consumers’ complaints about ads that Council has determined contravene the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (Code). They provide valuable information to advertisers about consumer concerns about advertising and how Council interprets and applies the Code’s clauses. We also publish an Annual Ad Complaints Report, which provides statistical information and highlights trends for the reporting year.

To read the most recent Ad Complaints Report, click here.

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