Responsible advertising and marketing communication

Advertising and all other forms of commercial communication are an essential tool for linking consumers and businesses, and are, therefore an important factor in building an effective market and in the development of the economy as a whole.

The responsibility that all advertisers have in modern society implies that it is up to them to ensure that the advertising of their products and services is responsible to competitors in the market, the individual consumer and to society as a whole. This is most effectively achieved through self-regulation: the voluntary application, by the advertising industry, of widely accepted ethical rules. The fundamental benefit of self-regulation derives from its ability to create, maintain and develop consumer and public confidence in the products advertised and in the advertising industry as a whole.

Self-regulation in advertising today provides consumer protection that complements the law, is a manifestation of social responsibility and a means of enhancing the reputation of any company.

Who makes the ethical rules in advertising?

The world’s first code of ethics for advertising was created by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in 1937. Since then, this Code has undergone dozens of revisions, but its globally recognized professional standards for responsible advertising and marketing communications remain the foundation of all national codes of ethics.

The Bulgarian National Ethical Rules for Advertising and Commercial Communication (the “Code of Ethics” or “Code“) was established by the National Council for Self-Regulation (NCSR) in 2009, after consultation with eminent professionals and interested bodies and organisations.

The NCSR is an independent body for self-regulation established by the three main parties of the Bulgarian advertising industry comprising the Bulgarian Association of Advertisers (BAA), the Bulgarian Association of Communication Agencies (BACA) and the Association of Bulgarian Radio and Television Broadcasters (ABBRO).

Members of NCSR can be associations and individual legal and natural persons from the advertising industry, such as advertisers and other marketing operators, advertising agencies, the media, prominent public figures and professionals, etc.

The Code of Ethics is subject to development, with the NCSR regularly reviewing the provisions of the Code to ensure that they continue to reflect the latest developments in technology, marketing practices and society in today’s dynamic digital world.

In addition to the General Rules of the Code, the NCSR may apply business-specific industry ethics rules, provided they do not conflict with the Code.

To whom the Code applies?

The National Code of Ethics is generally applicable to all participants in the advertising industry in Bulgaria to wit advertisers and other marketing operators, advertising agencies, the media and all other persons involved in advertising or any form of commercial communication in general and sets standards of professional conduct in the industry.

The responsibility to comply with those rules also extends to so-called influencers, bloggers, vloggers, affiliate networks, data analysts and advertising technology companies, and those responsible for developing algorithms and using artificial intelligence for commercial communication purposes.

Who enforces the rules?

The NCSR adopts the Regulations for the Application of the Code of Ethics and ensures voluntary application of ethical rules and best practices in the industry. To this end, the NCSR has set up its own working bodies such as an Ethics Committee, an Appeals Committee, a Working Group on the Interpretation of the Code, a Monitoring Committee, etc.

The NCSR examines complaints within the scope of the Code, against any participant in the advertising industry in Bulgaria who undertakes advertising and commercial communication in breach of the ethical rules.

The members of the NCSR undertake on a voluntary basis, to apply and enforce the Code. In addition, they must work to promote the Code and encourage compliance with its objectives and rules by all other businesses and individuals in the advertising industry.

The decisions of NCSR are binding on its members. They voluntarily undertake not to engage in or accept any activities in breach of the Code and to modify or withdraw any communication that the NCSR has determined to be in breach of the Code.

For those who have not yet adopted the Code, the decisions of NCSR are not binding but are advisory. In cases of non-compliance with the recommendations, the NCSR’s competence is limited to the public announcement of its bodies’ decisions, requesting the cessation of broadcasting by an NCSR member media outlet and, where necessary, notifying relevant law enforcement authorities.

To prevent potential violations, the NCSR shall, upon request, undertake a preliminary review (Copy Advice) on the compliance of a commercial communication with the rules of the Code even before it is broadcast.

However, compliance with the Code does not preclude a media outlet refusing an advertisement if it does not meet its other, more stringent, criteria for the acceptance of commercial communications.

Cross Border Complaints

The NCSR is a member of the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) and part of its cross-border complaints system. In a cross-border complaint, the “country of origin” principle applies, whereby advertising and all other commercial communications comply with the ethical code of the country where the broadcasting platform is based and, in the case of Internet/digital advertising and other forms of direct marketing, with the rules of the country where the advertiser is based.

All members of EASA apply the principle of “mutual recognition” i.e., each member of EASA agrees to accept the broadcasting of advertisements complying with the ethical rules of the country in which the broadcasting media is based, even if those rules are not identical to the member’s national ones.

Regardless of the limitations, when it comes to cross-border complaints, the NCSR will take measures to respond to such complaints where it proves impossible to respond through the EASA system and where they are addressed to Bulgarian users (e.g., via a website based in Bulgaria or using the Bulgarian language or indicating a contact address in Bulgaria or where prices are in Bulgarian Leva).

The Code and the Law

The Code does not have the force of law and does not apply to matters regulated by  law.

However, there are areas of overlap between the objectives of regulation and self-regulation, and the scope of both the law and the Code of Ethics.

The Code is always applied within the framework of the applicable legislation but is not a substitute for the laws governing advertising and commercial communication in Bulgaria. It represents their ‘ethical supplement’. Because of its nature, the clauses of the Code set standards of ethical conduct that are often more detailed than those in the law.

Since the breach of any law is not a manifestation of good business practice, the Code of Ethics for Advertising and Commercial Communication requires compliance with the law but is not a tool for enforcing or controlling legal compliance. Rather, the application of ethical rules is a sign of even greater concern for consumers and society because a lawful advertisement is not always ethically acceptable or appropriate. Therefore, all persons engaged in the advertising industry should ensure that any commercial communication complies with both applicable law and the relevant requirements of the Code of Ethics.

The Code offers an easy and accessible way to resolve disputes that have arisen and often prevents administrative and criminal proceedings and civil litigation, but application of the of self-regulation rules does not override the obligation of business entities and citizens to respect the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Bulgaria.

For the avoidance of doubt, where matters covered by the Code are also regulated in legislation, the lawfulness  (or otherwise) of a case shall be decided by the competent regulatory body.

No written or oral communication by the NCSR or its members should be construed as legal advice or recommendation.

Within scope

The Code applies to any form and channel of advertising and marketing communication, taken in their broadest sense of ‘marketing communication’ as activities which directly or indirectly promote the sale of any kind of goods and services (corporate and institutional promotion included), or promote trademarks and names, regardless of the channels and means of communication used (see Definitions), including, but not limited to:

  • Audio and audio-visual communications- TV, radio and other broadcast media, cinema, video etc.;
  • Print communication in/on newspapers, magazines, brochures, posters, newsletters, catalogues etc.;
  • Communication in other media displayed in public places, including moving images;
  • Commercial communication on packaging, instructions for use and other promotional material;
  • Any advertising communication published in return for payment of money or other reciprocal obligation where the content is controlled by the advertisers or marketing specialist and not the publisher;
  • Social and charity advertising, sponsorship etc.;
  • Commercial communication by local and central government;
  • Promotional communications, including point-of-sale, tastings, games and lotteries, event commercial communications;
  • Communication by electronicmeans of information processing and transmission, including, but not limited to:
    • display ads (static and moving)
    • text messaging
    • paid inclusion/search
    • internet banners
    • virals, produced and/or distributed by an advertiser/marketing specialist;
    • virals and user-generated content produced and disseminated by individual users, including influencers,with the assistance, support, editorial control of or for compensation by an advertiser/marketing specialist;
    • commercial communication on corporate internet sites;
    • online ‘in-game’ advertising;
    • the red button;
    • online corporate communications;
    • DVD/CD Rom;
    • digital billboards;
    • SMS- and MMS-messages;
    • dixed and mobile telephone and other electronic communications (e-mail, etc.).

Out of scope

Commercial communication should be taken in its broadest sense (see Definitions), yet it does not refer to absolutely every form of communication. Accordingly, the Code does not extend indiscriminately to every form. For instance, the Code does not apply to:

  • editorial content;
  • corporate communications, including corporate public announcements, press releases and other media statements; information in annual reports and the like; corporate statements on public policy issues;
  • information required by law to be included on product labels;
  • political communication intended to influence the electorate in local, national or international elections or referenda;
  • search sites;
  • blogs that are not under editorial control and/or do not communicate for payment or consideration of any kind from an advertiser;
  • virals and user-generated content produced and disseminated by individual users without the assistance, support, editorial control or consideration of an advertiser/marketing specialist;
  • communications for educational purposes or information on topics of importance to society where such communication is not related to the commercial interest of the initiator;
  • communication whose primary purpose is to entertain or educate and is not commercial, such as the content of: television programmes, films, books magazines or videogames;
  • communications by State authorities;
  • wors of art displayed publicly or privately;
  • the products themselves;

Public Access

The Code and decisions of the NCSR are public and provide information on the limit of the voluntary commitment of the advertising industry in dealing with the issues raised by the ethical tools of self-regulation.


The interpretation of the Code given by the NCSR is correct, considering that:

  • the Code is to be interpreted and applied, not only in form and content but also in spirit.;

it applies to the entire content of commercial communication, including all words and figures (spoken or written), visual representations, music and sound effects and material originating from other sources..

Due to the different characteristics of the various media, e.g. press, television, radio and other on-air media, outdoor advertising, films, digital interactive media, social networks, direct mail, fax, electronic messaging, telephone, etc., commercial communication that is acceptable for one channel/product may not necessarily be acceptable for another. For this reason, the communication should be assessed according to its likely impact on the reasonable user, taking into account the characteristics of the target group and the channel used.

The marketing communication should be evaluated according to the knowledge, experience and selective ability of the typical consumer to whom it is directed, and social, cultural and linguistic factors. For example, when evaluating communication addressed to children, their natural credulity and inexperience should always be taken into account.

It is generally assumed that users have relatively good experience, knowledge and sound judgement and are relatively observant and prudent. Groups with professional or other qualifications are assumed to have the appropriate level of specialist knowledge and experience in their field of work.

The Code is indivisible; all its rules apply.

Purpose of the Code

Given the particularly important role of advertising in the country’s economy, the purpose of the Code is to ensure that advertising is exercised as a public service in a way that takes into account the impact it has on the consumer.

The principles of the Code are the ethical basis of self-regulation. It is designed to stop activities which are in contradiction with the above purpose, even if such activities are formally within the framework of applicable laws.

The Code is intended to achieve the following objectives:

  • to demonstrate responsibility and good practice in advertising and marketing communication in Bulgaria;
    • to enhance overall public confidence in marketing communication;
    • to respect the privacy of personal information and consumer preferences;
    • to ensure special responsibility with regard to marketing communication aimed at children and adolescents;
    • to safeguard the freedom of expression of those engaged in marketing communication (as embodied in Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria);
    • to uphold the principles of fair competition;
    • to provide practical and flexible solutions to consumer protection issues;
    • to minimise the need for detailed national and/or international legislation or regulations to govern marketing communication.

Structure of the Code

The national Code is structured as an integrated system of ethical rules.

Its General Rules and Definitions apply, without exception, to all forms of advertising and marketing communication and to all communication channels.

In addition to its General Rules, the Code includes more specific provisions in the following areas:

Section A: Trade promotions

Section B: Sponsorship

Section C: Direct marketing and digital commercial communication

Section D: Environmental claims in commercial communication

With the development of self-regulatory policies in various sectors of the economy, by agreement with industry organizations and at the initiative of the NCSR, the Code is periodically supplemented with annexes containing particular rules and recommendations for the marketing communication of specific groups of products and activities. Some integral parts of the Code of Ethics are:

Framework for Food and Drinks

Standards for Spirit Drinks

Rules for Gambling

Rules for Online Behavioural Advertising

Guiding Principles for Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Recommendation for Influencer Marketing

Any specific rules and definitions that specify and supplement the General Rules and Definitions of the Code, including their interpretation, scope and application, shall be interpreted and applied in conjunction therewith.

Updating and extending the Code

To respond to the evolution of society, new marketing techniques and communication channels, the NCSR will regularly update the Code, and its annexes, aiming to do so no more frequently than every two years in order to ensure stability in its implementation.

General Definitions

The general definitions of terms refer to the Code as a whole, including its sections and appendices, annexes, guidelines and recommendations, and to its implementing rules. The definitions are given in alphabetical order in a separate Annex.

Other, more particular terms, contained in specific sections or appendices of the Code are defined in the relevant sections. They specify and supplement the general definitions and should be read and interpreted in conjunction with them.


Article 1
General conditions

1.1. Every marketing communication should be prepared with a sense of responsibility towards the consumer and society.

1.2. All marketing communication should be lawful, decent, honest, fair and truthful.

1.3. Advertisers are responsible for the lawfulness of marketing communications. No marketing communication should disregard any rule of law; should not contain elements that violate the law, nor should encourage anybody to break or circumvent the law.

1.4. All marketing communications should be prepared with a due sense of professional responsibility and conform to the principles of fair competition.

1.5. No communication should be such as to impair public confidence in advertising and marketing.

1.6. Self-regulation shall be applied with respect for freedom of expression and freedom of commercial communication.

Article 2

 Marketing communication should not contain statements, audio or visual elements that violate decency or could be defined as vulgar or repulsive according to the generally accepted  moral norms of the country and culture concerned.

Article 3

3.1. Marketing communication should be so framed as not to abuse the trust of consumers or exploit their lack of experience or knowledge.

3.2. Relevant factors likely to affect consumer decisions should be communicated in such a way and at such a time that consumers have an opportunity to consider them.

3.3. Where information is communicated below the main body of the text, it should be sufficiently visible, legible, of adequate font size and of sufficient length to enable its being read and taken into account.

3.4. Marketing communications should not damage the good name and credibility of competitors or the goods and services offered by them by making or disseminating false claims or misrepresenting facts.

3.5. Marketing communications should not use or divulge professional or trade secret contrary to conscientious business practice.

Article 4
Social responsibility

4.1. Marketing communications should respect all aspects of human dignity.

4.2. Marketing communications should not contain, incite or condone any form of offence or discrimination, including but not limited to, on the grounds of race, national origin, religion, social or political affiliation, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.

4.3. Marketing communications should respect the principle of gender equality.

4.4. Marketing communications should not, without justifiable reason, play on feelings of fear unhappiness or suffering.

4.5. Marketing communications should not exploit feelings of compassion for the sick, babies, children, the elderly and disadvantaged.

4.6. Marketing communications should not contain, condone or incite violent, unlawful or anti-social behaviour.

4.7. Marketing communications should not contain, condone or incite a threat to human life and health; nature and animals, or to private or public property.

4.8. Marketing communication should not contain pornographic scenes or contain, condone or incite sexual violence.

4.9. Marketing communications should not display excessive eroticism and should not promote increased susceptibility to sexual exploitation by depicting the promotion of and readiness for sex or inappropriate exposure of the human body. It should not present the product as a tool for removing sexual barriers. The human body may be displayed with due respect for personal rights and human dignity.

4. 10. The fact that a specific marketing communication may be unacceptable to a particular individual is not, in principle, a sufficient reason to reject marketing communications for a product in general.

4.11. The use of natural, historical, scientific or cultural values in marketing communications must be done in a manner that does not damage respect for them.

4.12. Marketing communications should not use the Bulgarian language in an insulting manner.

4.13. Where a marketing communication is lawfully published in a foreign language, the latter shall enjoy the same protection as the Bulgarian language.

4.14. State symbols may be used in marketing communications only in keeping with the law and in a manner which does not denigrate or detract from their dignity.

4.15. Marketing communications should not take advantage of people’s superstitions.

Article 5

5.1. Marketing communications should be truthful and not misleading.

5.2. Marketing communications cannot be hidden and act at a subconscious level.

5.3. Marketing communication should not distort or mislead with technical and scientific data and terminology.

5.4. Marketing communications should not conceal or hide essential flaws or hazardous characteristics of products offered.

5.5. Marketing communications should not contain any statement audio or visual representation which is likely to mislead the consumer, directly or indirectly, including through misrepresentation or distortion of facts, deliberate omission, inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, etc., and in particular, but not limited to:

a) characteristics of the product which are essential, i.e. likely to influence the
consumer’s choice, such as:  composition, consumer characteristics, quantity, quality, manufacturer, seller, manner, place and date of manufacture, source and manner of acquisition or use, effiacy and performance, commercial or geographical origin, environmental impact, etc.;

b) the value of the product and the final price to be paid by the consumer;

c) the conditions for supply, provision, replacement, return, repair, maintenance and other commercial conditions for the supply of the products;

d) guarantee terms;

e) copyright and industrial property rights such as patents, trade marks, designs, models and trade names;

f) compliance with standards;

g) official recognition or approval, awards such as medals, prizes and diplomas;

h) donations to charitable causes, social and cultural events, etc.;

i) opportunities for quick profits.

5.7. The word ‘new’ should only be used for a reasonable period of the life cycle of a product that is new or has undergone a considerable change.

Article 6
Use of technical/scientific data and terminology

6.1. Where a marketing communication uses technical and scientific data, such as research findings or quotations from technical or scientific publications, it must be possible to substantiate and support this with evidence.

6.2. Marketing communications should present statistical data in such a way as not to exaggerate the validity of the claims made for a product.

6.3. Technical and scientific data of specific validity terms shall be clearly identified as such and shall not be presented in such a way as to make them appear to be generally valid.

6.4. Marketing communications should use scientific terminology in such a way that is does not falsely imply that claims for a product are scientifically substantiated.

Article 7
Use of the terms “free” and “guarantee”

7.1. The term “free”, e.g., “free gift” or “free offer”, should, whenever permitted by law, be used only:

а) where the offer contains no obligation whatsoever;

b) where the only obligation is to pay the costs of:

  1. participation (postal charges notified in advance, normal telephone call with a fixed duration in the offer, cost of sending an e-mail, a telephone message, etc.);
  2. dispatch and transport, which should not exceed the approximate costs incurred by the marketer; or
  3. possible travel of the consumer, if they are required to receive the offer in person.

In such cases, the consumer’s obligation should be clearly indicated and there must beno additional packaging or handling costs.

c) in conjunction with the purchase of another product, provided the price of that product has not been increased to cover all or part of the offer price.

Where a product is offered free of charge and the consumer has to purchase one or more other products, this information must be clearly stated.

7.2. Offers with a trial period should not be communicated as ‘free’ if the consumer will be asked to pay the costs of any return of the product unless this is explicitly stated in the offer.

7.3. In cases where the acquisition of a free offer requires the consumer to pay taxes and charges due on the value of the acquired item, such information shall be clearly stated in the marketing communication.

7.4. If the above is not the case, the marketing communication should not state or imply that a “guarantee”, a “right” or any other expression with the same meaning offers the consumer additional rights to those guaranteed by law. The terms of any guarantee or right, including the name and address of the guarantor, should be made available to the consumer and the limitations of consumer rights or remedies, where permitted by law, shall be clear and conspicuous.

7.5 Where free trials, free subscriptions or similar offers are converted to paid versions after the end of the free period, this must be clearly, prominently and unambiguously disclosed before the user accepts the offer.

Where a product is to be returned by the user at the end of the free period, it should be made clear at the outset who will bear the cost of doing so. The procedure for returning the product should be simply and clearly communicated.

Disclosure of the information referred to in this Article may also be made by reference to communication channels other than the original one.

Article 8

8.1. Descriptions, data, statements and illustrations relating to verifiable facts in a marketing communication must be capable of being substantiated.

8.2. Such substantiation should be available so that evidence can be produced within a reasonable time and upon request to the self-regulatory bodies responsible for implementation of the Code.

Article 9

9.1. Marketing communication should be clearly distinguishable as such, irrespective of form and  the medium used.

9.2. Where an advertisement, incl. a native advertisement, is broadcast on a channel containing news or editorial material, it shall be presented in such a way that it is readily recognisable as an advertisement and, where appropriate, be identified as such.

9.3. Marketing communications must not misrepresent their true purpose. In this respect, communications promoting the sale of a product should not be presented as market research, consumer surveys, user-generated content, personal blogs, personal social media posts or independent comments.

9.4. The advertiser must be identifiable. This does not apply to communications the sole purpose of which is to draw attention to the communication activities that will follow (e.g., so-called “teaser campaigns”).

9.5. Marketing communications should, where appropriate, include information of a name and contact address to enable consumers to contact the marketing specialist without difficulty.

9.6. Influencer marketing should always be clearly marked and immediately recognizable by the audience. This marking is done by placing a “#” (hashtag), the name of the brand and/or advertiser and the nature of the marketing engagement, in Bulgarian or English (see Influencer Marketing Recommendation), directly next to the content.

Article 10

10.1. The use of comparison in marketing communications is permitted where it is needed to illustrate the technical or economic differences, advantages and characteristics of products.

10.2. The objective of the comparison must be the essential, comparable and representative features of the goods and services compared, including their prices.

10.3. The criteria for selecting elements of comparison must be clear, and the elements of comparison must be based on fairly selected, relevant and provable facts.

10.4. Marketing communications containing comparisons shall comply with the principles of fair competition and designed in such a way that the comparison is unlikely to confuse the advertiser with its competitors or to confuse trademarks, trade names, other characteristics, goods and services of the advertiser with those of its competitors or mislead those to whom it is addressed or those it reaches.

Article 11

Marketing communication should not denigrate, even if not explicitly referring to, any person or group of persons, firm, organisation, industrial or commercial activity, profession or product, nor attempt to arouse public contempt or ridicule towards them.

Article 12

12.1. Marketing communications shall not contain or refer to any testimonial, endorsement or other supporting documentation unless it is genuine, relevant and verifiable.

12.2. Any testimonial used in marketing communications must be shown signed and dated and include a contact person and address.

12.3. Unless a trusted, published, source is quoted, testimonials can be used in marketing communications only with the prior written consent of the person providing the reference.

12.4. Advertisers can express opinions about a product of theirs, provided that the commercial communication states clearly that this is an opinion and not evidence.

12.5. No written or verbal communication by the NCSR or its members shall constitute a product endorsement.

12.6. Recommendations or endorsements, which are outdated and have become misleading due to expiration of their term should not be used in marketing communications.

12.7. In essence, testimonials do not constitute evidence and the views expressed therein should be supported, where necessary, by evidence proving the veracity of the assertions.

12.8. In cases where testimonials and endorsements are paid for but the type and format of the communication does not imply paid content, this shall be indicated in an appropriate manner.

Article 13
Portrayal of persons and references to private property

13.1. Without prior permission, marketing communications shall not show personal property or refer to or depict a person, whether a private or public figure, except in cases of overriding public interest.

13.2. In cases where marketing communications portray scenes with the participation of many people and/or in public places and references published books, articles or film materials, the authorization under Art. 13.1 may not be needed.

13.3. Marketing communications shall not, without prior permission, depict or refer to any person’s property in a way likely to convey the impression of a personal endorsement of the product or organisation involved.

Article 14 
Exploitation of another person’s goodwill

14.1. Marketing communication mut not use the name, initials, logo and/or trademarks of another firm, company or institution without a legal right to do so.

14.2. Marketing communications must not in any way take unlawful advantage of the goodwill of another firm, person or institution, its name, registered trademarks or other intellectual property, and the goodwill earned by other marketing campaigns, without prior consent.

Article 15
and exploiting someone else’s prestige

15.1. Marketing communications shall not copy, literally or in imitation, another’s marketing communications already in the market, in any way that may mislead or confuse the consumer, for example by overall layout, text, slogan, visual presentation, music or sound effects.

15.2. Marketing communications shall not exploit or use the industrial designs or intellectual property  rights of another particularly if it could mislead or confuse the consumer, for example by using patents, trademarks, designs and working models.

Article 16
Safety and health

16.1. Marketing communications shall not, without justification on educational or social grounds, contain any visual portrayal or description of potentially dangerous practices or situations which show disregard for the safety or health standards defined by local national standards.

16.2. Instructions for use shall include appropriate safety warnings and, where necessary, identify the limit of the supplier’s liability.

16.3. Potential risks to health and safety should be clearly communicated, especially if not easily recognizable.

16.4. Commercial communications shall not portray or promote drink driving or give reasons to believe that the effect of alcohol consumption may be disguised.

16.5. Children should be shown to be under adult supervision whenever any product or  activity involves a safety risk.

16.6. Information provided with the product should include precise directions for use and, where necessary, full instructions on health and safety aspects. Such health and safety warnings shall be made clear by the use of pictures, text or a combination of both.

Article 17
Children and adolescents

17.1. Special care should be taken in marketing communications directed at or featuring children or adolescents. Such communications shall not undermine generally accepted rules of decency and public conduct.

17.2 Marketing Communications:

17.2.1 prohibited or unsuitable for use by children or adolescents shall not be placed in media with a primary audience of children or adolescents;

17.2.2 targeting children and adolescents, must not be published or broadcast in media, whose overall editorial content creates a risk of harm to the physical, mental, moral and/or social development of children and adolescents;

17.3 Marketing communication targeting children, including for games, toys, and educational materials, shall  not exploit the inexperience or credulity of children, in particular :

17.3.1. when demonstrating a product’s performance and use, marketing communications must not:

a. minimise the degree of skill or understate the age level generally required to assemble or operate products;

b. exaggerate the true size, value, nature, durability and performance of the product;

c. fail to disclose information about the need for additional purchases, such as accessories, or individual items in a collection or series, required to achieve the result shown or described.

17.3. 2. While the use of imagination is appropriate for both younger and older children it should not make it difficult for them to distinguish between reality and illusion.

17.4. Marketing communications directed at children should be clearly identifiable to them as such.

17.5. Marketing communications must not contain any statement or visual representation which creates a risk  of harm to the  physical, mental, moral and or/social development of children and adolescents.

17.6. Children and adolescents should not be portrayed in unsafe situations or engaging in actions harmful to themselves or others, nor should they be encouraged to engage in potentially hazardous activities or behaviour, particularly, but not exhaustively:

17.6.1. safety criteria should apply to all commercial communications featuring children;

17.6.2. Children can be portrayed in dangerous situations only if the purpose of the commercial communication is to promote safety rules;

17.6.3. Medicines, disinfectant liquids, cleaning materials, acids, washing powders and any products hazardous to health shall not be displayed in advertisements accessible to children without parental supervision and children shall not be displayed using such products;

17.6.4. Marketing communications should not encourage children to position themselves in places and situations that are dangerous to them or to enter into communication with people who could endanger their safety;

17.6.5. Children should not be shown on roads unattended by adults unless it is communicated that they are mature enough to be take responsibility for their own safety;

17.6.6. Children should not be shown playing in the street, except in areas clearly designated for children’s playgrounds or other safe areas;

17.6.7. Where children feature as participants in traffic, the communication must clearly demonstrate that the children are acting in accordance with the rules and regulations for traffic safety.

17.7. Marketing communications must not suggest that the possession or use of the product promoted will give a child or an adolescent physical, psychological or social advantages over their peers, or that not possessing the product will have the opposite effect.

17.8. Marketing communications should not undermine the authority, responsibilities, or judgment of parents, bearing in mind accepted social and cultural values.

17.9. Marketing communications should not include any direct inducement for children and adolescents to persuade their parents or other adults to buy products for them.

17.10. Marketing communications, including those for games, toys and educational products for children, should not be presented in such a way as to create an unrealistic perception of the cost or value of the product by children and adolescents, for example by minimising them. Marketing communications should not imply that the product being promoted is within the financial reach of every family budget.

17.11. Marketing communications which invite children and adolescents to contact the marketer should encourage them to obtain the permission of a parent or other appropriate adult if such contact entail any costs, including those for the communication.

17.12. No marketing communications related to gambling, alcohol and tobacco products shall be intended for, or directed at children and adolescents.

17.13. In the case of commercial communications for a product that includes the possibility of a purchase or usage of the product by children (for example, internet advertising messages that offer purchase by telephone), advertisers should take special steps to ensure that children obtain parental consent before confirming the purchase or use of the product.

Article 18
Data protection and privacy

18.1. Where personal data are collected from individuals, care should be taken to ensure that their privacy is respected and protected by complying with applicable rules.

18.2. Where personal data are collected from persons known or reasonably suspected to be children, parents or guardians should be provided with instructions on how to protect the data of children to the extent reasonably possible.

18.3. Children should be encouraged to obtain permission from a parent or other appropriate adult before providing information via electronic media and it is recommended that reasonable steps be taken to verify that such permission has been given.

18.4. Where required by applicable law, personal data collected from children under 14 years of age should not be used to send marketing communications to them without parental consent.

18.5. For additional rules specific to marketing communication to children through digital interactive media, see Section C, Article C7.

18.6. Appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that consumers understand and exercise their right:

a) to opt out of direct marketing lists;

b) to opt-out of online behavioural advertising (interest-based advertising);

c) to opt-in to general direct preference services;

d) to request that their data not be made available to third parties for  marketing purposes; and

е) to rectify incorrect data stored about them.

Article 19
Transparency on cost of communication

Where the cost to consumers of accessing a message or communicating with the marketer is higher than the standard cost of postage or telecommunications, e.g. a “premium rate” for an online message or telephone number, those costs should be made clear to consumers, expressed either as a “per-minute rate” or “per-message rate”. When this information is provided on-line, consumers should be clearly informed, as they are about to read the message or use the online service, and allowed a reasonable period of time to disconnect without incurring the charge.

Article 20
Unsolicited products and undisclosed costs

20.1. Marketing communications associated with the practice of sending unsolicited products to consumers who are then asked for payment (inertia selling), including statements or suggestions that recipients are required to accept and pay for such products, should not be undertaken.

20.2. Marketing communications which solicit a response constituting an order for which payment will be required (e.g., an entry in a publication) should make this unambiguously clear.

20.3. Marketing communications soliciting orders should not be presented in a form which might be mistaken for an invoice, or otherwise falsely suggest that payment is due.

Article 21
Environmental behaviour

21. Marketing communications should not justify or encourage actions that violate the law, self-regulatory codes or generally accepted standards of environmentally responsible behaviour.

Article 22

22.1. These general rules on responsibility are technologically neutral and apply to all forms of marketing communication.

22.2. The rules in this Code apply to all marketers, including companies whose products are advertised, communication agencies and advertising agents, market influencers, bloggers, vloggers, affiliate networks, data analytics and advertising technology companies, and those responsible for developing algorithms and using artificial intelligence for marketing communications, and publishers and the media.

22.3. Regardless of the nature of the activity, environment or technology, responsibility is shared by all parties involved commensurate with their respective roles in the process and within their specific functions:

22.3.1. Marketers have overall responsibility for the marketing communication of their products, but the responsibility for compliance with the Code extends to other participants in the marketing ecosystem.

22.3.2. Advertising agencies or other practitioners should exercise due care and diligence in the preparation of marketing communications and operate in such a way as to enable marketers to fulfil their responsibilities.

22.3.3. Publishers, the media and all other parties who publish, transmit, deliver or distribute marketing communications, should exercise due care in handling them and presenting them to the public.

22.3.4. Individuals employed by any firm, company or institution falling within any of the categories set out in this Article 22 and involved in the planning, creation, publication or transmission of a marketing communication are responsible for compliance with the Code, as is appropriate to the activities they undertake.

22.4. The Code applies to the marketing communication in its entire content and form, including testimonials and statements, and audio or visual material originating from other sources. The fact that the content or form of marketing communication may originate, in whole or in part, from other sources does not justify non-compliance with the rules of the Code.

Article 23
Effect of retrospective correction of a breach of the Code of Ethics

Retrospective correction and/or appropriate re-processing of a breach of the Code by the party responsible is desirable but does not justify the breach.

Article 24
Compliance with decisions of self-regulatory bodies

24.1. No person responsible for compliance with the Code shall be involved in the publication or distribution of any advertisement or other marketing communication which has been found unacceptable by the NCSR Ethics Committee.

24.2. All parties are encouraged to include, in their contracts and other agreements
pertaining to advertising and other marketing communications, a statement committing the signatories to adhering to the applicable self-regulatory standards, to respecting decisions and rulings made by the relevant self- regulatory body and to supporting its work.


These Rules on Trade Promotions (the “Rules”) and the definitions in this Section clarify and supplement the General Rules and Definitions, including in regard to their interpretation, scope and application, and shall be construed and applied together with them.

Scope of Section A

This Section refers to the marketing tools and techniques applied to make products offered more attractive to consumers by using a promotional element (a monetary gain, other product or profit opportunity). It applies irrespective of the distribution method and media channel, including digital (e.g. internet websites), audiovisual and print media. It shall also apply to commercial promotions used to drive sales, and promotional offers in print, audiovisual and other media. Those activities are usually limited by time, but the contents of this Section also address the use of long-term and permanent promotional techniques.

This Section deals with all forms of trade promotions, including but not limited to:

  • any type of bonus offer;
  • advertisements for price reductions or the offer of free goods/services;
  • distribution of stickers, coupons, vouchers or samples;
  • charity-related promotions;
  • prize promotions, including incentives;
  • promotional items used in connection with other commercial communications such as direct marketing and sponsorship.

This Section does not include the normal provision of add-ons or accessories to products that are not promotional in nature.

Specific terms used in marketing promotions

  • contractor’ refers to any person, company or organisation, other than the promoter, engaged in the execution of any form of trade promotion;
  • ‘core product’ refers to the product, service (or a combination thereof) being promoted;
  • ‘consumer’ refers to any person, company or organisation to whom the marketing  promotion is directed and who would receive a monetary, material benefit-in-kind from it;
  • ‘promoter’ refers to any person, company or organisation on whose behalf and on whose account the promotion is made;
  • ‘promotional item’ refers to any product, service or combination thereof that is offered for promotional purposes;
  • ‘prize promotion’ refers to any type of competition or raffle organized in connection with a marketing promotion.

Depending on the specific circumstances and objectives of a marketing promotion, any manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer or other person could be considered a  promoter, contractor and/or consumer.

Article A1

Basic principles of marketing promotions

All marketing promotions must be fair to and honest for consumers.

All marketing promotions must be formulated and conducted in conformity with the reasonable expectations of consumers as created by their advertisements and promotional claims.

The management of marketing promotions and the performance of any obligation arising therefrom shall be efficient and timely.

The terms and conditions of all marketing promotions shall be clear and transparent to all participants.

All marketing promotions must be fair to competitors and other participants in the particular  market.

No promoter, contractor or other person involved in a marketing promotion should allow any action which could compromise it.

Article A2

Terms and conditions of the offer

Trade promotions should be formulated and conducted in such a way that consumers can easily understand the terms of the promotion, including its limitations. The value of the promotional item must not be exaggerated, confused or hidden from the price of the underlying product.

Article A3


A trade promotion must not be presented in a manner that is likely to mislead or deceive as to the benefit, nature, terms and conditions of participation of those to whom it is directed. Any commercial communication regarding the Promotion, including in retail outlets, must strictly comply with the General Rules of the Code.

Article A4

Promotions Management

The management of trade promotions must be carried out with sufficient resources and necessary controls, including appropriate measures to ensure that the offer meets the reasonable expectations of consumers.


  • There must be sufficient availability of promotional items to meet anticipated demand in accordance with the terms of the offer as presented. In the event of a delay, customers must be notified in good time and the necessary action taken to bring the offer into line with the situation. The promoters must be able to demonstrate that they have estimated the expected quantity of promotional items in advance. Where the condition for receiving a promotional item is the making of one or more consecutive purchases, promoters must ensure that the appropriate quantity of items is available.
  • If a defect in the product, or non-conformity of the service provided with the offer is found, consumers must be provided with a replacement or appropriate monetary compensation. Any related reasonable costs incurred by the consumer must be reimbursed immediately upon request.
  • Any complaint must be dealt with promptly and effectively.

Article A5

Safety and applicability

Measures must be taken to ensure that promotional items, when used as intended, do not expose consumers, workers or anyone else to danger or damage their property in any way.

The promotional activities of promoters must be in accordance with the principles of social responsibility in the General Rules. It is particularly important to take reasonable measures to prevent children from accessing inappropriate material.

Article A6

Presentation to users

Complexly worded rules should be avoided. Rules should be written in language that is easily understood by participants. The chances of winning a prize should not be exaggerated.

Information requirements

Trade promotions should be presented in such a way that consumers are aware of the factors that may influence their decision before making a purchase.

Where applicable, promotional information should include:

  1. clear instructions on how to participate in the promotion, e.g., the conditions that must be fulfilled in order to acquire a promotional item, including associated costs, or the conditions for participating in prize promotions;
  2. principle qualities of the promotional item offered;
  3. any time limits and time periods for taking advantage of the promotional offer;
  4. any restrictions on participation (e.g. location or age), availability of promotional items or any other restrictions. In the case of limited availability, consumers must be informed, in detail, of the action to be taken to provide alternative items or obtain a refund;
  5. where a cash equivalent is provided, the value of each voucher or sticker offered;
  6. any cost associated with the item, including shipping and handling/installation costs, and payment terms;
  7. contact details of the promoter.

Promotional claims to support charitable causes should not exaggerate the contribution of the campaign. Before buying the promoted product, consumers should know how much of the price will go to the cause.

Information on promotions offering rewards

Where a trade promotion promises rewards, the following information must be provided to consumers, or made available on request prior to participation in the promotion, and that provision must not be conditional on the purchase of the underlying product:

  1. all conditions of eligibility for participation in the prize promotion;
  2. costs that may be associated with participation, other than normal communication charges (postage, telephone and other means);
  3. limits on the number of participants;
  4. the number, value and nature of prizes on offer and whether they can be redeemed in cash;
  5. in the case of competitions in which participants‘ skills are assessed: the nature of the competition and the assessment criteria;
  6. the award decision procedure;
  7. the competition deadline;
  8. when and how the results will be announced;
  9. whether the recipients will owe tax on the award;
  10. the deadline for receipt of prizes;
  11. where there are judges, information about them;
  12. any intention to use the winners’ names or have them participate in post-competition activities, and the conditions for doing so.

Article A7

Presentation to contractors

Information for contractors

Trade promotions should be presented to contractors so that they can understand the services and commitments they are required to fulfil. Specifically, there needs to be sufficient detailed information on:

  1. the organisation and scope of the promotion, including the timing and any timeframes;
  2. the means of presenting the promotion to retailers and consumers;
  3. the conditions of participation;
  4. financial aspects of the contractor’s participation;
  5. any more specific administrative task to be performed by the contractor.

Information on the outer packaging

Whenever possible, the outer packaging of promotional products should have appropriate information of benefit  to contractors e.g. the promotion deadline or timeframe to enable contractors to ensure control over the required product stock.

Article A8


The Promoter has a duty to comply with these rules. He shall be primarily responsible for all elements of commercial promotions, regardless of their type or content.

Anyone involved in the planning, creation or execution of a trade promotion is liable under Article 22 of the General Rules.


These Rules of Sponsorship (the “Rules”) and the definitions in this section clarify and supplement the General Rules and Definitions, including as to their interpretation, scope and application, and shall be construed and applied together with them.

Scope of Section B

This section applies to all forms of sponsorship for corporate image, brands, products, activities or events of any kind. It includes sponsorships from commercial and non-profit organisations, as well as sponsorship elements that form part of other marketing activities such as trade promotions or direct marketing. The rules also apply to any sponsorship element of corporate social responsibility programmes. The sponsor’s own activities should be consistent, to the extent applicable, with the principles described in this section.

This section does not apply to product placement or to funding that is not for commercial or communication purposes, such as donation or patronage, except for activities containing a sponsorship element.

Specific terms regarding sponsorship

The following definitions apply specifically to this section. They clarify  and supplement the definitions in the General Rules and should be interpreted and applied in conjunction with them:

  • audience’ refers to the audience, individuals or organisations to whom the sponsorship is directed;
  • donation or patronage’ refers to forms of altruism in which money or goods are given for which the sponsor receives little or no benefit, recognition or commercial return;
  • product placement’ refers tothe inclusion of a product or brand as part of the content of a programme, film or publication, including online material, usually in return for payment or other material consideration to the programme or film producer, publisher or licensee;
  • sponsor’ refers to any corporation or other legal entity providing financial or other sponsorship support;
  • sponsor-owned activity’ refers toinstances that appear to be sponsorship but where the sponsor and the sponsored party are the same person; for example, an event created and owned by a company/organisation for which the same company/organisation has the intent or influence to be perceived as the sponsor;
  • sponsored party’ refers to any natural or legal person holding specific rights in the sponsored content and receiving direct or indirect support from a sponsor in relation to the sponsored content;
  • sponsored content’ refers to an event, activity, organization, individual, media, etc supported by a sponsor;
  • ‘sponsorship’ refers to any arrangement whereby the sponsor, for the mutual benefit of the sponsoring and sponsored parties, provides funding and other support for the purpose of establishing an association between the sponsor’s image, brands or products and that of the sponsored event, in return for the right to promote that association and/or the provision of certain agreed direct or indirect benefits.

Article B1

Principles of sponsorship

Sponsorship should be recognisable as such.

Article B2

Imitation and confusion

Sponsors and sponsored parties, as well as other parties involved in a sponsorship, should avoid imitating other sponsorships where such imitation may mislead or cause confusion, even if applied to non-competing products, companies or events.

Article B3

Assignment of sponsorship rights

No party should seek to give the impression that it is sponsoring an event or media coverage of an event, whether sponsored or not, if in fact it is not.

Each sponsor and each sponsored party must ensure that any action they take against such ‘ambush marketing’ is proportionate, does not damage the reputation of the sponsored content, and does not have a negative impact on the general public.

Article B4

Relationship to sponsored content and sponsor

Sponsors must take special care to preserve the artistic, cultural, sporting or other integrity of the sponsored content and avoid any abuse of their sponsorship status that could damage the identity, dignity or reputation of the sponsored party or content.

The sponsored party must not tarnish or damage the image or trademarks of the sponsor or jeopardize the goodwill and public esteem of the sponsor.

Article B5

Audience of sponsorship

The audience must be clearly informed of the existence of sponsorship for a particular event, activity, program or person and the sponsor’s message must not contain offensive content.

Article B6

Art and historical sites

Sponsorship should not be carried out in a way that endangers cultural or historical sites. Sponsorship which aims to preserve, restore or maintain cultural, artistic or historical content or to ensure its dissemination must respect the public interest attached to it.

Article B7

Social and environmental sponsorship

Any environmental claim made in respect of sponsorship must comply with the principles set out in Section D: Environmental Claims in Commercial Communication.

Article B8

Charity and humanitarian sponsorship

Sponsorship of charities and other humanitarian causes must be done carefully to ensure that the work of the sponsored party is not adversely affected.

Article B9

Media sponsorship

Sponsored media content must be appropriately identified.

Particular care should be taken to ensure that there is no confusion between sponsorship of an event or activity and media sponsorship, especially where different sponsors are involved.

Article B10


Since sponsorship is based on a contract of mutual benefit, the burden of compliance with the Code of Ethics is shared by the sponsor and the sponsored party, who share ultimate responsibility according to the activities for which they are responsible, regardless of type or content.


These Direct Marketing and Digital Commerce Communication Rules (the “Rules”) and the definitions in this section clarify  and supplement the General Rules and Definitions, including with regard to their interpretation, application, scope, and relationship to law, and shall be interpreted and applied together with them.

Scope and applicability of Section C

Unless otherwise stated, these Rules apply to all participants in the direct marketing process and overall digital commerce ecosystem and apply to all of their commercial communications, whether digital or not, regardless of form, content or distribution channels. The Rules set out the standards of ethical conduct to which all parties in the process must adhere. They are designed to be applicable to a variety of fields and to be technologically neutral. Where technologically feasible the Rules should be applied to all possible new technologies available in the market.

Specific terms for direct marketing and digital commercial communications

– ‘digital commercial communication’ refers to commercial communication that uses digital interactive channels and whose purpose is to promote products or influence consumer behaviour;

– ‘direct marketing’ means the  communication of advertising and marketing content made by or on behalf of the advertiser itself, transmitted by any means and which is targeted at specific individuals using their personal contact details (including postal address, telephone number, email address, mobile telephone number, fax number, personal social networking profile, etc.)

– ’contractor’ refers to any natural or legal person, other than an advertiser, who carries out direct marketing or provides a service in the field of digital commercial communication for  or on behalf of advertisers;

– ‘right of withdrawal’ refers to the consumer’s right to return any goods to the seller, or to refuse an order for services, within a specified period of time thereby  cancelling the sale.

More specific definitions can be found in Articles 21 and 22 regarding telemarketing and interest-based online behavioural advertising.

Article C1

Identification and transparency

The commercial communication must be distinguishable in an appropriate manner in accordance with Article 9 of the General Rules.

The means of differentiation must be clear and the commercial nature of the communication must be recognisable by consumers.

Where a marketer has offered remuneration or some other form of consideration in return for a review or recommendation of a product, the commercial nature of that offer must be apparent. In such a case, the recommendation or review must not claim or imply that it arises from or originates with, an independent consumer or organisation.

Marketers must ensure that the commercial nature of the content on a social networking account over which they have control or influence is clearly identified and that the rules and standards of acceptable commercial behaviour on those social networks are adhered to.

Any image, sound or text which, by its size, strength or any other visual characteristic, could reduce or obscure the visibility of or ability to understand that a commercial offer exists should be avoided.

Article C2

Identification of the marketing operator

The identity of the marketer, as well as details of where and how they can be contacted, should be stated in the offer so that the consumer can communicate directly and effectively with them. According to the technical possibilities available, this information should be displayed in such a way that the user can access it.

Article C3


The terms and conditions of any offer made must be clearly stated.

All offers involving promotional items must be formulated in strict accordance with the rules of Section A: Marketing Promotions.

Article C4


Where appropriate, the main elements of the offer should be simply and clearly summarised in one place. Important elements of the proposal may be repeated but should not be indiscriminately scattered throughout the promotional material.

If, when presenting an offer, products are included which are not described in the offer, or where a condition is set for the purchase of additional products in order for the consumer to obtain the product available in the offer, this must be clearly stated from the outset.

Consumers should always be informed in advance of the steps they need to take to place an order, enter into a contract or make any other commitment. If users are asked to provide any data for this purpose, they should be given the opportunity to verify the accuracy of the data entered before making any commitment.

Where appropriate, the marketer must respond to the consumer by accepting or rejecting the order placed.

No software or other technical means should be used to obscure or obstruct the visibility of any material element of the offer, e.g., the price and other terms of sale, which could influence the consumer’s decision. Before making any commitment, the consumer should be presented with the opportunity to easily access the information needed to understand the exact features of the product, as well as the purchase price, transport costs and other costs associated with the purchase.

Article C5

Exerting pressure

Pressure tactics that could be interpreted as harassment should not be used. The consumer cannot be required to accept an offer if mechanisms cannot be provided to confirm the terms and conditions.

Article C6

Respect the rules of public groups and review sites

The terms and conditions of specific digital interactive channels that may have rules and standards for acceptable commercial conduct, such as newsgroups, forums, blogs, vlogs or newsletters, and generally available server software for editing the content of web pages (wiki sites), must be followed.

Uploading commercial communications to such sites is only acceptable if the forum or site has indicated, explicitly or implicitly, its consent to receive such communications.

Article C7

Commercial communication and children

Parents and/or guardians/caregivers should be encouraged to participate in and/or check their children’s interactive activities.

The personal data of persons known to be children may be disclosed to third parties only in accordance with applicable law.

Websites dealing in products that require age restrictions, such as alcoholic beverages and gambling, must take action to restrict access to such sites by children under the age of consent*, for example by age verification.

*The term ‘required age’ refers to the age set by national law below which the purchase and consumption of specific products is not allowed. For the purposes of these Rules, if there is no such legal restriction, the age limit is set at 18.

Marketing communication aimed at children of a particular age group should be appropriate for those children.

Article C8

Respect for the customer’s wishes

Marketers must take into account the customer’s reluctance to receive direct commercial communication by providing a system of preference.

Marketers who communicate internationally with customers should, where possible, make use of appropriate local services to provide a choice of preferences in the markets to which they target their communications. They should respect customers’ wishes not to receive their communication.

Direct commercial communication sent by electronic means must contain a clear and transparent mechanism to allow the customer to express his/her wish not to receive reminders in the future, unless the customer has already been provided with another opportunity to express this wish.

Article C9

Consumer compliance in the use of digital interactive media

Appropriate measures need to be taken to ensure that the normal use of digital interactive media by consumers is not more than usually interrupted by digital commercial communications and/or applications that provide the consumer with access to other advertising or commercial messages.

Article C10

Consideration of sensitive topics for global audiences

Marketers should strive to avoid causing offence by respecting social norms, local culture and the traditions of the markets they target with their commercial communications. Given global access to electronic networks, and the diversity and differences of possible users, marketers should take steps to align their commercial communications with the social responsibility rules in the General Rules.

Article C11

Health and Safety

Marketers must ensure that commercial communication does not encourage or show in a positive light, irresponsible practices that may affect health and safety.

Article C12

Right of withdrawal

Where consumers have a right of withdrawal, providers must inform them of the existence of this right, how to obtain further information n this and how to exercise the right. (See the provisions of Article 7 of the General Rules regarding the free trial period).

Article C13

After-sales service

Where after-sales service is offered, details of this service must be included in the terms of any warranty or stated in the offer itself. If the consumer accepts the offer, he must be provided with information on how to access the after-sales service and how to communicate with the service agent.

Article C14

Prices and credit terms

Any information that the consumer may need to understand the costs, interest rates and terms of any form of credit must be provided either in the commercial offer itself or when credit is offered.

Regardless of whether the sale is effected upon immediate payment of the full value or by instalments, the price and terms of payment must be clearly stated in the offer, together with the nature of any additional costs (such as postage, delivery charges, fees, etc.) and, where possible, the amount of such costs. In the case of payment by instalments, credit terms must be stated in the offer, including the amount of deposit or prepayment required, the amount and frequency of instalments and the total price compared to the selling price if paid in full immediately.

Unless the duration of the offer and the price are clearly stated in the offer, prices must be maintained for a reasonable period of time.

Article C15

Unsolicited products

Products for which payment is awaited must not be delivered without an order. (See also the provisions of Article 20 of the General Rules regarding unordered products and undisclosed prices)

Article C16

Execution of orders

The user must be notified of any delay as soon as it becomes known.

Article C17

Product replacement

If, for any reason beyond the control of the supplier or operator, a product becomes unavailable, no substitute product may be supplied in its place unless the consumer is so notified and the substitute product has the same or better characteristics and qualities and is supplied at the same or lower price. In such a case, the consumer must have the replacement and his right to return the replacement product at the supplier’s expense explained to him.

Article C18

Payment and collection of debts

Unreasonable requests should not be made to debtors and documents relating to the recovery of the debt which may be confused with official documents for this purpose should not be used.

Article C19


Responsibility for all aspects of direct marketing and digital commerce communication activities, whatever their form and content, shall be in accordance with Article 22 of the General Rules, according to the role of the particular  participant in the process.

Article C20


The following rules apply specifically to direct marketing via telemarketing.

Definitions of terms specific to telemarketing:

– ‘autodialer’ refers to any software, system or device that automatically initiates an outgoing telecommunication from a predetermined list of telecommunication numbers;

– ‘telemarketer’ means any natural or legal person who provides a telemarketing service on behalf of and to the account of an advertiser;

– ‘telemarketing’ includes any commercial communication made/executed by voice over a landline, mobile or IP network or other device;

– ‘automatic dialling/messaging device’ refers to any automatic equipment capable of storing or reproducing telecommunication numbers used in conjunction with other equipment to transmit a prerecorded or synthesised voice message to a telecommunication number.

C20.1. Clarifications

Outgoing calls

20.1.1 When calling a consumer, telemarketers must:

– duly indicate the name of the marketing operator they represent and their own name;

– unambiguously state the purpose of the call at the beginning;

– politely end the call when it becomes clear that the other party is not competent to participate in the call, is unwilling to do so, or is a child (unless the telemarketer obtains proper permission from an adult to proceed with the call).

20.1.2 When a telemarketer calls a consumer who has a device that allows the display of numbers, the consumer must be able to identify the calling party’s number.

All calls

20.1.3. Before the call is terminated, the telemarketer must ensure that the consumer is informed and aware of the nature of the consent given and the steps to be taken after the call. In the case of a purported sales agreement, the customer should be fully aware of the important points of the contract. This includes, as a minimum:

  1. the main characteristics of the product;
  2. the minimum duration of the contract where the product is to be supplied on a permanent basis or for an extended period;
  3. the price of the product, including any additional cost (e.g. delivery and/or handling costs or any tax the customer may have to pay);
  4. the terms of payment, delivery and performance;
  5. any right of withdrawal of the customer.

When the call does not result in a sale but a follow-up call by the telemarketer, the telemarketer must inform the consumer that there will be a follow-up call. If the data provided by the consumer will be subject to use for any purpose that is not obvious, i.e. that has not already been disclosed, the telemarketer must explain that purpose to the customer in accordance with applicable data protection law.

C20.2. Reasonable call time

Unless the recipient of the call has specifically requested otherwise, outgoing calls should occur only at times generally accepted by call recipients as reasonable.

C20.3. Right to written confirmation

When the call results in an order, the customer is entitled – within the agreed time and, at the latest, at the time of delivery of the product or at the start of delivery of the service – to receive confirmation, in writing or other durable format, containing the parameters of the contract. The confirmation must contain all the information set out in Article C12 (Right of withdrawal) and Article C2 (Identification of the marketer) and, where appropriate, any other information set out in this section.

C20.4. Call monitoring

Surveillance, including the recording of telemarketing calls, may only be carried out if appropriate safeguards are in place in order to be able to confirm the content of the conversation, confirm the commercial transaction itself, for training and quality control purposes and in other cases, as required by applicable law.

Telemarketers should be aware when monitoring is taking place and customers should be informed of this as soon as the call starts. Recorded conversations may not be made public without the prior consent of both parties.

C20.5 Use of automatic dialling and messaging devices

Where automatic dialling devices are used, if the telemarketer is unable to immediately take the call generated, the equipment shall disconnect the call and release the line after no more than one second.

Other autodialer messaging devices may be used to contact the customer only if the call is initially picked up by the telemarketer or where the customer has expressly agreed to receive such calls without the telemarketer’s intervention.

Autodialers and messaging devices can only be used if they immediately disconnect after the customer has hung up.

The dialer must release the line each time before connecting to another number.

Article C21

Interest-based advertising/online behavioural advertising

These rules apply to advertising based on analysis of users’ internet behaviour over a period of time and across multiple web domains or applications owned or operated by different, unrelated parties. This analysis aims to create interest segments (a set of users who, according to their previous and current internet searches, share one or more interests) or to associate the internet behaviour of a particular user with interest segments, in order to deliver advertisements relevant to that user’s interests and preferences.

These rules apply to all natural and legal persons engaged in such online activity .

(See also the document ‘Rules for Online Behavioural Advertising’)

Definitions specific to interest-based advertising:

– The terms ‘OBA (abbreviation of : Online Behavioural Advertising)  and  ‘interest-based advertising’, refer to the practice of collecting information over a period of time about users’ actions on the Internet from a particular device, their visits to various unrelated websites or applications, which is done to create user segments of interest for the purpose of delivering advertisements relevant to the user’s interests and preferences. This covers actions from desktop, mobile, video or TV, social and IoT (Internet of Things) settings and covers tracking and targeting based on all devices employed by the user.

OBA does not include quantitative ad delivery or reporting, or contextual advertising (e.g., advertising based on the content of the web page visited or web searches).

– ‘consent’ means a freely given, specific and informed response by an individual to clear and unambiguous information about the collection and use of data for online behavioural advertising (OBA) purposes;

– For the purposes of OBA, the term ‘third party’ refers to entities that are engaged in the process of delivering OBA advertisements on unrelated sites, services, or applications (including, but not limited to, advertisers, exchanges, ad networks, and technology service providers). This definition is the opposite of a ‘website operator’ or ‘first party,’ which isthe owner, controller, or operator of a website, including its affiliated sites, services, or applications with which a user interacts on the Internet.

Awareness and choice.

Each party participating in the OBA must adhere to the principles of awareness and user control as outlined below.

It is most important that users know that data is being collected, for what purpose and that they have the option to choose whether to share their data for the purposes of the OBA. The guidance below further explains how these principles apply to OBA.

C21.1. Informing

Third parties and website operators must provide clear and unambiguous information on their websites explaining their data collection practices for the purposes of the OBA. This information should include a description of the type of data collected and the purposes for which it is collected. Users should also be informed how they can make choices regarding the collection of data for OBA purposes. To the extent that the data collected constitutes personal data, this information must be provided through one or more mechanisms to clearly inform Internet users of the practices for collecting and using their personal data.**

**Examples of how third parties or, where applicable, website operators, may notify users of data collection for OBA purposes include mechanisms such as: the use of an icon adjacent to or within the published advertisement or elsewhere on the web page where such data is collected; reference in the cookie policy; the provision of a link to industry-developed web pages where third parties are individually identified.

C21.2. User control

Third parties must provide internet users with a mechanism through which they can exercise their choice regarding the collection and use of data for OBA purposes.

C22.3. Location data

Precise location data is data that describes the precise location of a device, derived through the use of any technology that has the ability to determine, with a sufficient degree of accuracy , the actual physical location of an individual or device, such as GPS coordinates or triangulation of a frequency signal associated with a location.

Precise location data does not include data such as postcode, city or neighbourhood, whether this data is derived from an IP address or other source.

Privacy notices must contain clear information about how the site, app or service accesses, uses and shares geolocation data. They should also disclose any mechanisms by which location data is collected (e.g. Wi-Fi, Basic Service Set Identifier (BSSID)) and ensure that users’ choice regarding the collection of their location data is never circumvented (e.g. by collecting wi-fi connectivity data when other location services are turned off).

After the provision of OBA advertising based on precise location data, the data collected must be retained only for the purposes and time period specified.

C21.4. Children

User segments that are created to specifically address children for the purposes of OBA ads must take into account the need for appropriate parental controls.

C21.5. Segmentation of sensitive data

Generally, for the purposes of OBA, ads should not create or use segments based on sensitive data. Those who want to create or use segmentation based on sensitive data must obtain the Internet user’s consent before delivering  OBA ads using that information.


These Rules for Environmental Claims in Commercial Communications (the ‘Rules’) and the definitions in this section clarify  and supplement the General Rules and Definitions, including in respect of  their interpretation, scope and application, and shall be interpreted and applied in conjunction therewith.

Scope of Section D

There are many different specific environmental claims, the use and meaning of which may vary, but these principles apply generally to all environmental claims.

The rules in this section apply to all commercial communications containing environmental claims, i.e. any claim directly or indirectly related to the environment such as the manufacture, packaging, distribution, use/consumption or disposal of products.

Environmental claims can be made through any communication channel, including labels, packaging inserts, promotional and advertising materials, product literature, and digital interactive media. This section is based on national and international standards, including, but not limited to, certain provisions of the ISO 14021 International Standard on “Personally Identifiable Environmental Claims” relevant to commercial communications, rather than technical prescriptions.

Terms specific to environmental claims

The following definitions apply specifically to this section, are in addition to the definitions in the General Rules and should be read and applied in conjunction with them:

environmental impact’ means any change in the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, resulting in whole or in part from the activities or products of the organisation;

environmental aspect’ means an element of the activities or products of companies or organisations that may interact with the environment;

life cycle’ means the sequential and interrelated stages from the acquisition of raw materials or exploitation  of natural resources to their final disposal/destruction;

qualifying’ means an explanatory statement that accurately and truthfully describes the limits of the claim;

‘waste’ refers to anything that can no longer be used by the producer or holder and that is discarded or released into the environment;

product’ refers to all goods and services, and usually includes the packaging in which goods are supplied; however, from an environmental perspective it is often appropriate to refer separately to packaging, which subsequently means any material used to protect or store a product during transportation, storage, marketing or use;

‘environmental claim’ means any claim, symbol or representation which relates to an environmental aspect of a product, component or packaging.

Article D1

Honest and faithful representation

Commercial communications must be formulated in such a way that they do not abuse consumers’ concerns for the environment or take advantage of their lack of knowledge about the environment. A marketing communication must not contain any statement or visual representation that could mislead consumers in any way about the environmental aspects or benefits of the products or about the actions that the marketer is taking to benefit the environment. Examples of exaggerated environmental claims are; presenting a minor improvement as a major benefit or using statistics in a misleading way (“we have doubled the recycled content of our product” when the percentage is actually small). Commercial communications that refer to specific products or activities should not imply, without appropriate justification, that they cover the overall performance of a company, group or industry.

Any environmental claim should be related to the specific product being advertised and should only refer to aspects that already exist or can be realised during the life cycle of the product. It should be clear what the claim refers to, e.g. the product, its specific ingredients, packaging or a specific ingredient of the packaging. An existing, but previously undisclosed aspect, should not be presented as new. Environmental claims should be kept up to date and, where appropriate, revised in line with developments.

Vague or non-specific claims of environmental benefits that may be interpreted in different ways by consumers should only be made if valid without qualification, taking into account all reasonably foreseeable circumstances. Otherwise, environmental claims should either be qualified or avoided. In particular, claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘environmentally safe’, ‘green’, ‘sustainable’, ‘low carbon’ or other claims suggesting that a product or activity has no impact – or only a positive impact – on the environment should not be made without qualification unless there is compelling evidence. Until there are definitive, generally accepted, methods for measuring environmental sustainability or for confirming its achievement, no claim should be made that it has been achieved.

Qualifying statements should be clear, prominent and easily understood; placed adjacent to the qualifying aspect to ensure they are read together. There may be circumstances where it is appropriate to direct the user to a website where accurate additional information can be obtained. This technique is particularly appropriate for communications about post-use disposal. For example, it is not possible to provide a complete list of where a product or packaging can be accepted for recycling. A statement such as “Recyclable in many locations, visit [URL] to check the collection points near you” provides a means of informing consumers where to find locations where a material or product is accepted for recycling.

Article D2


Commercial communication should use technical evidence or scientific data on environmental impacts only when supported by reliable evidence. Environmental jargon or scientific terminology is acceptable provided it is appropriate and used in a way that can be easily understood by those to whom the communication is directed. Environmental claims relating to health, safety or any other benefits should only be made when supported by reliable scientific evidence.

Article D3

Claims of comparison and superiority

Any comparative statement should be specific, and the basis for comparison clear. Superiority over competitors in terms of environmental impact should only be claimed where a significant advantage can be demonstrated. The products being compared must meet the same needs and be designed for the same purpose. Claims of superiority, whether related to the proprietor’s  previous process or product or to a competitor’s product or process, must be formulated in such a way that it is clear whether the advantage claimed  is absolute or relative. Improvements related to a product and its packaging should be presented separately and should not be combined, in accordance with the principle that claims should be specific and clearly related to the product, its ingredient, the packaging or an ingredient of the packaging.

Article D4

Product life cycle, components and elements

Environmental claims should not imply that they refer to more stages of a product’s life cycle or more of its properties than is proven. It should always be clear to which stage or quality the claim refers. The claim of life cycle benefits should be substantiated by life cycle analysis. Where a claim relates to a reduction in components or elements that have an impact on the environment, it should be clear what has been reduced. Such claims shall only be substantiated if they refer to alternative processes, components or elements that lead to a significant improvement in environmental impact. Environmental claims should not be based on the absence of a component, ingredient, characteristic or impact that has never been associated with the product category concerned, unless qualified in such a way that it is clear that the product or category has never been associated with the particular component, ingredient, characteristic or impact. Conversely, features or ingredients that are common to all or most products in a category should not be presented as if they were a unique or remarkable feature of the product being advertised. Claims that the product does not contain a particular ingredient or component, e.g. that the product is free of a particular substance, should only be used where the level of that substance does not exceed the generic contamination level or background level. Claims that a product, packaging or component does not contain a particular substance are often made to show or imply a health benefit  in addition to an environmental effect. Evidence to support a health or environmental effect may vary and the advertiser must be sure that when making explicit or implicit health claims, they must be supported by relevant reliable scientific evidence in accordance with the General Rules.

Article D5

Signs and symbols

Environmental signs or symbols should only be used in commercial communications where the source of those signs or symbols is clearly indicated and there is no likelihood of confusion as to their meaning. Such signs and symbols should not be used in such a way as to falsely imply official endorsement or certification by third parties.

Article D6

Work with waste

Environmental claims relating to waste management are acceptable provided that the recommended method of separation, collection, treatment or disposal is generally accepted or readily available to a reasonable proportion of users in the area concerned or is specified in applicable legislation. Otherwise, the degree of accessibility of the recommended method must be accurately described.

Article D6


The provisions of Article 22 of the General Rules shall apply with regard to liability for the application of the rules in this Section.



The definitions included herein refer to the Code as a whole, including its sections, appendices, annexes, recommendations and guidelines, as well as to the Rules for its implementation.

Other, more particular, terms contained in specific sections or subdivisions of the Code are defined in the appropriate sections.

For the purposes of this Code, certain terms have the following meanings:

(in alphabetical order):

actions in the public interest’ means actions to protect the health, safety and security of the public; to protect cultural and historical heritage; to assist in the prevention and detection of crime and abuse of power or to protect the public from the danger of being misled;

advertiser’ means any natural or legal person who directly or indirectly promotes goods, services, rights, obligations, companies, trade marks, symbols, etc., either directly  or through an agent or intermediary;

advertising agency’ means any natural or legal person offering services in various forms of commercial communication, including planning, design and production, media planning and buying, research, consultancy, etc.;

advertising’ or ‘advertisement’ means any form of commercial communication, in connection with a trade, craft or profession, made through any media/communication channel, usually for payment or other consideration, which is intended to promote the sale of goods or services, including real estate, rights and obligations;

advertising by means of games and lotteries’ means a commercial communication involving an invitation to the consumer to take part in a game or competition based on a random prize or information that the consumer has already been designated as the winner of such a game or competition entitled to a prize or benefit;

advertising/commercial message or communication’ means any form of presentation of a product, including its packaging;

alcohol/alcoholic beverages’ means beer, wine and spirits (as defined in § 1, item 17 of the Supplementary Provisions of the Health Act. ‘Spirits’ means alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of more than 15 % by volume);

association’ means an industry organisation protecting the interests of its members;

adolescents’ means persons between 13 and 17 years of age.

charity-related advertising’ means a communication intended to raise funds for charity, including money or in kind, promoting the interests of a charitable or philanthropic organisation;

children’ means any person under the age of 18;

“claim” means a formal document, complaint, plea or request, concerning any form of commercial communication.

commercial communication’/’marketing communication’ includes advertising and other techniques for conveying information, such as promotions, sponsorships, direct marketing and digital commercial communication, point-of-sale advertising, etc., and should be interpreted in the broadest sense as any form of communication produced directly by and/or on behalf and for the benefit  of a marketer and intended primarily to promote products or influence consumer behaviour, regardless of the communication channels/media used;

communication channel’/’medium’ means any place or means through which persons transmit an advertising message or any other type of commercial communication to the consumer;

company website’ means a website owned wholly or predominantly by a marketer;

comparative advertising’ means any advertising which directly or indirectly identifies a competitor or the goods or services offered by a competitor;

complaint’ means an official document, complaint, alert or request concerning any form of commercial communication. A complaint may state prima facie evidence of a violation of the Code of Ethics or raise a question of possible violation that requires further investigation;

corporate/company communication’ means a company’s announcement or statement to the media, annual reports, statements on public policy issues and the like; ‘consideration’ includes payment under a contract or other form of monetary compensation; provision of free or discounted goods/services; any other form of consideration by the advertiser;

consumer’ means any person who can be expected to be influenced by a commercial communication, whether as an individual or as a commercial customer or consumer;

digital interactive media’ refers to the full range of tracking media, technologies and platforms, including mobile, video, TV, social media, the Internet of Things (IoT), ‘wearables’, creating a pseudonymised user profile with information from the use of different devices (known as ‘cross-device tracking’), and related algorithms;

direct marketing’ includes all communication activities carried out with the intention of offering goods or services or conveying commercial messages, presented through any channel and intended to inform and seek a response from the addressee, and any services directly related thereto;

distance selling’ means any commercial activity carried out by means of distanced communication without the physical presence of both parties to the transaction;

disguised advertising’ means an advertising message that purports to be another type of non-commercial communication (scientific article, editorial news, etc.);

editorial content’ means news, political, social or financial content whose primary purpose is to inform or comment, but not to advertise/promote;

editorial control’ means any form of influence or control by the advertiser over the content, tone, structure and/or direction of a message created by individuals or virtual images, including a script, scripted message, message text prepared in advance by the advertiser; approval of the message prior to broadcast; requirement for a positive review; determination of the number of social media mentions of a particular brand and/or product/service; requirement to display products on social media, etc., etc.

“editorial content” means news, political, social or financial content, whose main purpose is to inform or comment, but not to advertise/promote;

electronic media’ refers to all media providing electronic or interactive communication, such as the Internet, online services and electronic and communication networks, including the telephone;

“hidden advertising” means an advertising message, pretending to be another form of non-commercial communication (a scientific article, editorial news etc.);

‘fair commercial practice’ refers to the rules governing market behaviour which are derived from the law and customary commercial relations and do not violate good morals;

imitation’ means the unauthorised use of material from another’s commercial communication;

“indecent advertising” means any commercial communication which attracts the attention and interest of consumers in a socially unacceptable, offensive or scandalous manner;

influencer marketing’ is any form of communication by an individual or virtual image that shapes audience behaviour through content on blogs, posts, photos, videos, messages, etc. on any social media, which communication is editorially controlled and/or made for payment or consideration of any kind by the advertiser;

interactive services’ means any communication sent to a user that requires the receiving party to send back a message involving an action (response, order, etc.) that can occur regardless of the constraints of time and space;

market research’, which includes all forms of market and public opinion research, as well as any social research and data analysis, is the systematic collection and interpretation of information about individuals or organisations using statistical and analytical methods and techniques of applied social, behavioural and information sciences, in order to gain insight into the situation or to assist the decision-making process, of providers of goods and services, regulators, non-governmental organisations etc..

marketer’ means a person, including an advertiser or other person engaged in commercial promotions and/or direct marketing, who, or on whose behalf, commercial communication is published or disseminated for the purpose of promoting its products or influencing consumer behaviour.

marketing communication(s)’/’commercial communication(s)’ includes advertising and other techniques for conveying information, such as promotions, sponsorships, direct and digital marketing, point-of-sale advertising, etc., and should be interpreted in the broadest sense as any form of communication produced directly by and/or on behalf of marketers and intended primarily to promote products/services or influence consumer behaviour, regardless of the technologies and communication channels/media used;

medium’/’communication channel’ means any place or means through which persons transmit an advertising message or any other type of commercial communication to the consumer;

misleading advertising’ means any advertising which in any way, including by the manner of its presentation, misleads or is likely to mislead the persons to whom it is addressed or communicated and is therefore likely to influence their economic behaviour or for those reasons, causes or is likely to cause damage to a participant.

mobile’ refers to mobile phones and wireless devices (such as, but not limited to, handheld games, tablets, wristwatches, etc.) from which the user can make calls and interact with them, requiring a modular subscriber identity card or personal user ID;

monitoring’ means a system for monitoring compliance of commercial communications with reference to the Code;

native advertising’ is a paid advertising message that fits in form, style and functionality into the overall format of the content in the medium in which it is published;

offer’ means any invitation to sell or buy products;

offer’/’proposal’ means any invitation to sell or buy products;

personal data’ means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person, whether directly or indirectly, including but not limited to his or her physical, psychological, mental, family, economic, cultural or social identity;

product’ refers to anything that is the subject of an advertisement; this usually means goods or services, including real estate, rights and obligations, but is not restrictive: where appropriate, the Code may apply more broadly, for example to ideas;

‘professional or trade secret’ means facts, information, decisions and data relating to a business activity and, in general, any information the disclosure of which may jeopardise the commercial interest or prestige of a third party, the secrecy of which is in the interests of those entitled to it and for which they have taken necessary measures. Professional secrecy does not constitute professional secrecy within the meaning of the Classified Information Protection Act;

testimonial’ means any communication about a product, in person by an actual person, based on personal use and experience;

“social advertising” means an advertising message intended to form public opinion;

sponsorship’ refers to any arrangement whereby the sponsor, for the mutual benefit of the sponsoring and sponsored parties, provides funding and other support for the purpose of establishing an association between the sponsor’s image, brands or products and that of the sponsored event, in return for the rights to promote that association and/or the provision of certain agreed direct or indirect benefits;

sponsorship’ refers to any arrangement whereby the sponsor, for the mutual benefit of the sponsoring and sponsored parties, provides funding and other support for the purpose of establishing an association between the sponsor’s image, brands or products and that of the sponsored event, in return for the rights to promote that association and/or the provision of certain agreed direct or indirect benefits;

‘subconscious level of perception’ means a sensory (subliminal) perception of an advertisement caused by an influence on a person’s memory of which he is unaware;

unfair competition’ means any act or omission in the conduct of a business which is contrary to honest commercial practice and which harms or is likely to harm the interests of participants;

Last revision of the Code of Ethics: 25.06.2020.