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Ad watchdogs draw up code on celebrity endorsements

LONDON - The Committee of Advertising Practice has drawn up a new set of guidelines, for advertisers who use celebrities to endorse products.

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The new code, which has been drawn up jointly by CAP and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, aims to avert bad publicity when ads break the rules.

The two watchdogs said firm evidence was needed to back up any claims, even if the celebrity is an expert on the subject.

Earlier this year, an ad for a Paul McKenna weight loss event was found in breach of the code because it failed to prove that people can stay fat-free for life.

Lord Winston's starring role in a St Ivel milk ad also came under fire last year because claims about the benefits of Omega 3 on children's concentration could not be proven.

The code warns: "A celebrity can be an asset to a brand but when an ad featuring a famous person is found to breach a Cap or Bcap code, both the brand's and the celebrity's reputation could well suffer.

"If a claim goes beyond the usual 'I think it's great' puffery and is capable of objective substantiation, the advertiser needs to have adequate documentary evidence to back it up. And that remains so even if the celebrity is an informed professional."

In a survey in Marketing earlier this month, only 16% of respondents said celebrity endorsement would persuade them to buy a product.

One in five mothers said that the sight of Victoria and David Beckham promoting something in an ad would be likely to put them off purchasing the product.

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