Regulation guaranteeing the impartiality of self-regulatory judgements

Pursuant to Art. 31 of the Code, members of the Jury and Review Board, or consultants (expert witnesses) shall not participate in deliberations in the following cases: a) those falling under the scope of Art. 51.1 c.p.c.; b) cases in which they are currently involved, or have been involved in the last 12 months, in respect of providing their professional services to the advertiser or applicant; c) cases in which there is a serious conflict of interest (incompatibility). Participation in deliberations shall not be allowed in such cases, or in cases directly involving competitors of the party with respect to whom the member or consultant is in a situation of conflict of interest (incompatibility).
Members of the Jury and Review Board, and expert witnesses (technical consultants) as defined by article 32 bis of the Code should refrain from appearing in advertisements and marketing communications.
Members of the Jury and Review Board and expert witnesses are obliged to consider whether a conflict of interest (incompatible) situation exists upon receiving the documents relative to the dispute or the case submitted for examination, and, if such a situation does exist, should with out delay notify the Chairman of the panel or relevant section of the Review Board, that they will not participate in deliberations. Should the Chairman agree that the member or advisor is in a conflict of interest situation, the Chairman of the Jury or the Chairman of the Review Board should be duly informed. In turn, if both Chairmen agree that there is a conflict of interest situation, they should notify the Chairman of the Istituto di Autodisciplina of the member’s inability to participate in the deliberations.
Members of the “Copy Adivce” section of the Review Board should notify any conflict of interest situations as soon as they discover the identity of the party presenting the application and the matter to which it refers.
The Board of Directors is responsible for evaluating breaches of conflict of interest rules, and may at its own discretion adopt measures including the decision to terminate the offender’s appointment as a member of the Jury or Review Board, or as an expert advisor (consultant), taking into due account the concrete influence of the individual’s behaviour on the outcome of the self-regulatory process. In any case, such measures as may be adopted do not constitute grounds for challenging the decision of the Jury or the deliberation of the Review Board in which the member deemed to be in a conflict of interest situation has participated.
The Board of Directors issues its decisions in response to applications from any interested parties, after hearing the member of the Jury or Review Board or expert witness (consultant) involved.

Regulations concerning marketing communication relating to food supplements for weight loss or weight control and other types of supplements

  1. Such supplements should not be presented as “slimming” products. The role of food supplements intended for weight control reduction is that of an “aid to low-calorie diets”. Moreover, the concept of slimness being synonymous with good health should not be emphasised.
  2. Messages promoting such products should not use fanciful names designed to suggest or guarantee properties that the products do not possess, or which the marketer cannot prove.
  3. Messages promoting supplements intended for weight control or weight loss should not refer to scientific endorsements or approval.
    Messages should not refer to “industry professionals” (doctors, pharmacists, dieticians, etc.) who, on the basis of their authority and standing in the eyes of the public by virtue of their professional role, could endorse the general effectiveness of the products and decrease the consumer’s objectivity in choosing products to meet individual needs which vary from individual to individual.
    For similar reasons, endorsements by scientific societies or associations cannot be cited.
  4. Messages should specify that the products in question must be used in conjunction with a suitably low-calorie diet and an increased level of exercise, and avoiding an overly sedentary lifestyle.
  5. Marketing communication relating to weight control or weight loss supplements should not present generic weight loss plans prepared by experts as universally valid.
    This rule is based on the conviction, long supported by the scientific community, that it is illogical and irrational to offer consumers generic weight loss plans without taking the background and characteristics of every individual into due account. Therefore, standardised diets must not be claim to be universally valid. Should marketing communication propose a standard diet, consumers must also be told to consult a doctor or dietician to ensure that the diet is appropriate for the consumer’s needs.
  6. Marketing communication relating to supplements intended for weight control or weight loss should not use pictures or testimonials aiming to compare the situation before using the product with the results achieved after using it.
  7. Marketing communication relating to supplements intended for weight control or weight loss should avoid quantifying results achievable over a specific time frame (in terms of weight loss, smaller circumferences, fat mass, fatty tissue, etc.).
  8. Marketing communication relating to supplements intended for weight control or weight loss should not suggest that significant results can be achieved quickly and without sacrifice.
    The use of food supplements intended for weight control or weight loss can be effective and produce the desired affects only as part of a diet programme which, to be low-calorie, necessarily requires sacrifices (restricted energy intake). The promise of results without sacrifice is in contrast with the principle of truthfulness.
    Moreover, excessively rapid weight loss is dangerous to human health. Consequently, the promise of rapid weight loss could not only generate unrealistic expectations but also encourage unhealthy behaviours.
  9. Special precautions must be taken in marketing communication for food supplements intended for weight control or weight loss that cite clinical and scientific trials, in view of the vulnerability of target consumers. Therefore:
    • messages should not use terms such as “clinically tested”, or “clinical trials prove that…” that may mislead recipients as to the scope and size of the studies conducted, or the nature of the promoted product, presenting it in such a way as to suggest that it has therapeutic or pharmacological properties;
    • messages should not quote scientific data taken from bibliographic research conducted on any of the product’s ingredients that fails to reflect the effective action of the ingredients in respect of the amounts used in the product and any possible interactions with other ingredients;
    • it is possible to support statements contained in the message with detailed and truthful citations of specific tolerance or efficacy testing results conducted on the promoted products, provided the testing is carried out in compliance with criteria and methodologies approved by the scientific community.
  10. Marketing communication relating to supplements intended for weight control or weight loss should avoid explicitly mentioning such concepts as the “ideal” weight, “ideal” figure, etc.
    Messages must reflect the sensitive nature of the topic, in terms of communications, with respect to eating disorders.
    The concept of the “ideal” weight is now obsolete, having given rise to treatment errors and serious mental illnesses.
  11. Marketing communication relating to such products should not associate the build-up of fat with water retention.
  12. Marketing communication relating to such products should not associate body weight with flatulence.
  13. Marketing communication relating to such products should not cast discredit on the complex carbohydrate-rich Mediterranean diet.
  14. Messages promoting food supplements for weight control or weight loss may only claim generic effectiveness as an aid, but cannot claim untrue or unproven effects benefiting particular sub-groups of consumers affected by specific problems (e.g. emotional eating, slow metabolism, etc.).OTHER TYPES OF SUPPLEMENTS
  15. Messages relating to products that claim anti-ageing properties should not lead consumers to underestimate the need to adopt a healthy lifestyle and eliminate risk factors; such products should therefore avoid suggesting that such products can prevent or delay the ageing process.
  16. Marketing communication should not encourage the belief that a food supplement or non-medicinal product can cure male impotence.
    This rule is often breached by communications claiming to enhance physical and sexual performance, especially in men. Some messages go so far as to claim effects on male impotence for products therefore presented as an alternative to therapeutic treatments.
    It must be stressed that in most cases, experimental evidence on the efficacy of such products on animals and humans is extremely inadequate and insufficient for supporting such claims.
    Messages should reflect the fact that these products may have adjuvant toning effects, without leading consumers to underestimate the need for medical advice on their condition and, if necessary, appropriate medical treatment.
  17. Marketing communication relating to food supplements aimed at controlling plasma lipids should specify that these products serve to promote normal lipid metabolism as part of a suitable diet programme. These products should never be presented as appropriate for treating pathological disorders requiring professional medical attention.
  18. Marketing communication relating to food supplements should not encourage the belief that such products are intended for athletes or people engaging in intense physical activity, due to their positive effects on muscle mass or physical performance.
    Products formulated especially for athletes, and indicating such effects specifically on the label, represent a particular category of dietary products.

Regulations concerning the copy advice of the review board

These Regulations outline the process and procedures adopted by the Review Board to issue copy advice pursuant to article 32, paragraph 2, point 5 of the Code of Marketing Communication.

  1.  The Review Board has established a special sub-group devoted to issuing copy advice, called the “Copy Advice Section”.
    The Section is presided over by the President of the Review Board, one of the Deputy Chairmen, or a member of the Committee empowered to do so by the President, and includes at least two other members chosen in turn by the President of the Review Board among Board members with specific expertise in the matters at hand.
    Once applicants have filed a request for a preliminary opinion, they are entitled to know the members of the Section.
  2. The Section is generally responsible for issuing copy advice in compliance with article 32, paragraph 2, point 5 of the Code, with the effects envisaged therein. In particularly sensitive or complex cases, the President of the Section may refer the issuance of opinions to the full Review Board after notifying the applicant to this effect.
    The Section and the Review Board may in any case avail themselves of experts.
  3. Parties intending to apply for a copy advice should forward a written request to this effect to the Secretariat of the Istituto di Autodisciplina, attaching the marketing communication for which an opinion is being sought both in paper and electronic form, in the closest possible version to the final form (e.g. story-boards for television commercials, complete scripts for print ads, etc.), or at least a detailed description such as to enable the Board to acquire the fullest possible understanding of all the features of the marketing communication. The application may also include any documentation evidencing compliance of the communication with the relevant rules of the Code. Such documentation is compulsory for claims of product performance, in order to check the truthfulness of statements contained in the message.
    A separate request for a copy advice should be filed for each marketing communication, and in the event of any changes made to the communication following findings issued by the Board. The relevant administrative charges as set by the IAP Board of Directors should be paid upon filing requests for copy advice.
  4. The Section, as a whole or through a member specifically appointed by the President of the Review Board should acquire any and all information and clarifications that may be needed or helpful for issuing opinions, without formalities and employing the fastest and most fitting communication channels. Parties who have requested preliminary opinions may contact the Section either personally or via the aforesaid communication channels, with a view to better illustrating aspects of particular relevance to the issuance of preliminary opinions.
  5. Copy advice are issued in writing; opinions that are negative or favourable with reservations will be adequately explained. Copy advice are issued as promptly as possible, and no later than 5 working days as of receipt of the request by the Secretariat of the Istituto di Autodisciplina. Particularly complex cases may require up to 8 working days.

Regulations for safeguarding future marketing and advertising campaigns (see Art. 44 of the Self-Regulatory Code)

With reference to articles 13 and 44 of the Code of  Marketing Communication Self-Regulation, future communication campaigns can be protected through the

prior disclosure of an isolated message. This requires that the essential creative elements of the idea be briefly but accurately described, if necessary with pictures, then filed and published as set out below:

1) The applicant shall:

fill in the online “Pre-emption form”, indicating the creative elements for which protection is sought, enclosing evidence of payment of the relevant fees. The form is available on IAP’s website (in Italian: Le idee depositate).

2) The creative elements to be protected must be contained in a single advertisement for products or services whose names need not be specified; naming the company is also optional. However, if such information is not provided, the name of the advertising agency or consultant  must be indicated.

3) Pre-emption rights become effective as soon as the IAP has received the complete and correct application form as per point 1) above; the rights are registered by the IAP Secretariat and are valid for 12 months against parties subject to compliance with the Code who are deemed to have imitated the advertisement covered by protection in any medium.

4) Before expiration, the protection can be extended for a further period of 12 months starting as of the day following the date of expiration of the first period of protection, according to the procedure provided under point 1)

5) All filings are published as quickly as possible on the IAP website –”Advertisements filed for the protection of future campaigns” (in Italian: Elenco depositi a tutela di future campagne).

Regulations on the time requirements for the enforcement of self-regulation decisions

With reference to paragraphs c) and d) of the Preliminary and General Rules of the Code of Marketing Communication Self-Regulation and considering that articles 38 and 39 are aimed at achieving the speediest discontinuance of marketing communication in breach of the Code, the Board of Directors of the Institute has established that marketing communications found to be in breach should be discontinued within seven working days, or within five working days in cases as provided under art. 37.2 of the Code.

These are the absolute deadlines which shall be start elapsing from the first working day following the hearing handing down the Jury’s decision.

On the day of the ruling the Secretariat of the Institute communicates the decision to all the parties and media involved, who will take it upon themselves to advise any other interested parties of the decision.

Considering the particular features of the magazines, enforcement of the order to cease and desist shall be as timely as technically possible.

The order to cease and desist pertaining to the product and packaging (including every aspect of the presentation packaging) and the product display unit shall normally be executed within 120 days of the Jury’s decision, on the understanding that the advertiser shall take steps to comply with the order as promptly as possible.  Products and display units placed on the market by the advertiser prior to this deadline may be sold while stocks last.

Should the Jury decide that packaging fails to comply with the provisions of art. 42, because it conveys a message already declared to be in contrast with the rules of the Code, the order to cease and desist shall be enforced within 30 days. This rule applies whether the message found to be in breach was already present on the packaging and the order to cease and desist was not enforced within 120 days, or whether the message was conveyed by other means and subsequently added to the packaging.

As to the decisions of the Review Board, enforcement must begin from the deadline for filing an objection.

In any case, the Jury may allow more time for enforcement in the event of particular technical requirements.

Marketers are responsible for the timely and effective enforcement of decisions concerning their marketing communication and shall advise the Secretariat of the Institute in writing (e-mail or fax) by the end of the first working day following the date of the final Self-Regulation ruling, that they have taken steps to withdraw the message in question as per the deadlines indicated above, on all the media included in the planned marketing campaign.

IAP is member of EASA - European Advertising Standards Alliance and of ICAS - International Council on Ad Self-Regulation EASA_50