Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) has recently provided notice of important amendments to the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (“Code”) and the Consumer Complaints Procedure (“Complaints Procedure”) that took effect on February 1, 2014.

Regarding the amendments to the Code, advertisers should take note that visual disclaimers used in advertising that falls within the purview of the Code will be required to be clearly legible (versus the previous requirement that merely stipulated that such disclaimers must be clearly visible).  This amendment was adopted in response to complaints received from consumers on the basis that certain disclaimers used in advertising are illegible because they are too small and not displayed for a sufficient period of time to enable them to be read and understood.  Further, the Code has been amended to clarify that the phrase “political advertising” (which is specifically excluded from the purview of the Code) extends to advertising about political issues existing in Canada or elsewhere.

Regarding the Complaints Procedure, three amendments appear to be of particular importance:  (i) an amendment that is intended to streamline and simplify the administrative resolution process that applies to Clause 1 and 3 complaints; (ii) an amendment that provides a definition for the terms “correction advertisement” and “correction notice”, respectively; and (iii) an amendment that provides retail advertisers with certain options with respect to the steps that may be taken to correct an erroneous advertisement. 

Further details regarding the amendments to the Code and Complaints Procedure are provided on the ASC website and affected advertisers are urged to take steps to ensure compliance with the new requirements.