Whilst the general public may be focusing on the extra May bank holiday following King Charles III's Coronation on 6 May 2023, businesses will have been thinking about how they can capitalise on the event. Love them or hate them, the coronation will attract visitors from all over the world and it will mark a key moment in history.
So what are brands permitted to do?
Last week the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) provided revised guidance in respect of marketing communications which seek to benefit from the popularity of the Royal family in the lead up to the event. Many brands will be well versed on the rules following the recent sad passing of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II and her earlier jubilee celebrations. However, here is a quick reminder.
1. Protecting their privacy and obtaining consents
Advertising rules make it clear that members of the Royal family should not be shown or mentioned in marketing communications without the prior permission of the Royal family member in question.
2. Incidental references
Incidental and generic references unconnected with the advertised product may be acceptable. So for example, a congratulatory message might be acceptable, but we would recommend exercising caution when naming any individual (whether from the royal family or not) in any promotional material without the consent of the person. In particular, the ASA is keen to remind brands to refrain from implying that any named person approves of the advertised product or service unless they are able to readily provide evidence when challenged that such person does endorse the product. Evidence will usually be in the form of endorsement agreements with celebrities or influencers, or written reviews from customers in which a person has consented to the review being published. So probably best to stick to "Congratulations Your Majesty!"
3. Memorabilia and collectibles
Brands should also avoid any implication that products have been royally endorsed or are official memorabilia if that is not the case. In 2019, the ASA banned an ad for a coin commemorating Queen Elizabeth II's jubilee as it called itself the "official crown coin". Following a complaint, the ASA investigated the claim and considered that the claim "official crown coin" would ordinarily be interpreted that the coin was issued by an authorised body and was legal tender in the UK. This was not the case and the ASA ruled the claim was misleading.
4. Royal Arms and emblems
Marketers that featuring the Royal Arms or Emblems or referring to a Royal Warrant is likely to imply the product has been royally endorsed and should not be done, unless the marketer holds the relevant permission. Permission to use the Royal Arms or Emblems should be sought from the Lord Chamberlain's office and references to Royal Warrants should be discussed with the Royal Warrant Holders' Association. We discuss this in further detail in our recent article, Keeping your "Royal" House in Order – Things to consider as a Royal Warrant holder. Applications are currently closed until the Royal Household has completed its review of the Warrant grants following the change of Monarch. We await further information.
In summary, generic references to the Coronation or the bank holiday weekend – such as to congratulate His Majesty - are likely to be acceptable. However marketing communications should avoid referencing specific members of the Royal family (which may include written reference to their name or using imagery) or implying that a product is an "official" product for the Coronation, unless permission has been sought.
If you would like further information or assistance in this area, please do get in contact with Kate Williams or your usual contact in our Advertising & Consumer Protection team.
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