ICAS, EASA and CONARED have issued a joint statement on the importance of responsible advertising and COVID-19.

Brussels, April 1, 2020 – This year we are facing an unprecedented international crisis due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Alongside the human tragedy, the global economy is severely impacted and consumers and businesses across many industries are suffering as a result of this latest outbreak.

Countless companies, including marketers, agencies and the media, have been extremely creative and supporting governments and people in these difficult times through public service ads, providing information, free resources, products and services as well as financial support. We applaud these efforts.

However, across the globe, we are also seeing advertisements that undermine public health advice or exploit people’s anxieties. These advertisements harm their trust in information and advertising and undermine the principles of fair competition and, in some instances, endanger public health. Our respective members, which cover together advertising self-regulatory organizations in 44 countries around the globe as well as the advertising industry, condemn these advertising practices and are taking action against them.

In this context, we would like to remind those who promote products and services to:

  • advertise responsibly;
  • respect the existing advertising laws and standards;
  • be sensitive of people’s current increased susceptibility to health claims and not to exploit it through misleading claims or sales of ineffective or mislabelled products;
  • make sure that all claims made are fully substantiated and especially any claims expressly or impliedly promising health benefits;
  • and get advice when in doubt.

Government regulators in many economies around the world have expressed their intent to deal harshly with misleading and unsubstantiated claims which are made in the context of the pandemic through civil and criminal penalties. ICAS, EASA and CONARED members, using their existing processes, are giving high priority to these claims and can refer non-compliant advertisers who refuse to amend or withdraw their advertisements, where appropriate, to the authorities for legal action

For more information on global advertising standards and advertising self-regulation and where to get specific advice, please contact ICAS at info@icas.global.

For more specific information on European advertising standards and where to get advice, please contact EASA at info@easa-alliance.org.

For more information on advertising standards and advice in Latin America, please contact conar@conar.org.mx.

Read the full statement here.

The statement is also available in FrenchSpanish and Dutch.