Consolidated ICC code

Interpretation

The Consolidated ICC Code is to be interpreted in the spirit as well as to the letter.

It applies to marketing communications in their entirety, including all words and numbers (spoken and written), visual treatments, music and sound effects, and material originating from other sources. Because of the different characteristics of the various media, e.g. press, television, radio and other broadcast media, outdoor advertising, films, digital interactive media, direct mail, electronic messaging, fax, telephone, etc.,communications which are acceptable for one medium may not necessarily be acceptable for another. Communications should therefore be judged by their likely impact on the reasonable consumer, having regard to the characteristics of the targeted group and the medium used.

This means that marketing communications should be assessed having regard to the knowledge, experience and discriminatory ability of the typical consumer to whom it is directed, as well as social, cultural and linguistic factors. For example, when judging communications addressed to children, their natural credulity and inexperience should always be taken into account. Consumers in general are assumed to have a reasonable degree of experience, knowledge and sound judgment, and to be reasonably observant and prudent. Professional or otherwise qualified groups are presumed to have an appropriate level of specialised knowledge and expertise in their field of operations.

Cross-border communications - origin and jurisdiction

Before engaging in cross-border marketing communications, marketers need to consider what rules would be applicable. There are basically two principles: either the rules of the country from where the message or activity originates apply, or those of the country (or countries) receiving it. In the view of ICC, the rational and effective order would be for the principle of origin to take precedence, and ICC recommends it be implemented in the context of self-regulation. However, the question of legal jurisdiction, i.e. what national laws would be applicable in a given case, is de facto a complicated matter. Marketers are therefore urged to assess the legal situation with regard to where they target their marketing communications, and to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations of the various relevant jurisdictions.