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The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards Frequently Asked Questions

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

The Code is the Canadian advertising industry’s principal instrument of self-regulation.

What’s in the Code?

The Code includes 14 clauses that set the criteria for acceptable advertising. The Code is supplemented by Interpretation Guidelines that enhance industry and public understanding of the interpretation and application of the clauses.

What does the Code do?

The Code sets the standards for acceptable advertising in Canada and forms the basis for the review and evaluation of consumer, trade, or special interest group complaints about advertising.

Who created the Code?

After broad consultation with industry and stakeholders, ASC (then the Canadian Advisory Board) first published the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards in 1963. It is regularly updated to ensure it remains vital, current and relevant within contemporary Canadian society.

When was the most recent update of the Code?

The Code was last updated in 2012. As the need arises and issues emerge, new interpretation guidelines are developed to support the Code.

What type of advertising is covered by the Code?

The Code applies to advertising of products and services in any 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 should I do if I think an ad violates the Code?

ASC accepts written complaints about Canadian advertising from consumers. When a complaint raises an issue under one or more of the Code’s clauses, it may be brought to our Standards Councils. If the ad is found to contravene the Code, the advertisers will be asked to remove or amend the advertising.

Who sits on the Councils?

The Councils are composed of senior volunteer representatives from the advertising industry and the public.

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