Insights Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) publishes guide to testimonials and endorsements


CAP acknowledges that testimonials and endorsements from customers’ online posts and vloggers are a popular, effective, and perfectly legitimate method of promoting a product or service. However, it warns that marketers should take care to make sure that such claims, whether made by celebrities or members of the public, are accurate, capable of substantiation and unlikely to mislead. CAP has published seven tips to ensure that quotes from clients are CAP Code compliant:

  1. demonstrate they are genuine: marketers should ensure they hold evidence that any testimonials and endorsements used are real (unless they are obviously fictitious), and that they accurately reflect what the person said; CAP also advises retaining the contact details of the person featured for as long as the ad is used;
  2. obtain permission: marketers should ensure they have consent before using a testimonial (although certain exceptions apply to using quotes from published sources — see CAP Code rule 3.48);
  3. make sure they are relevant: marketers should avoid using testimonials or endorsements in misleading ways, e.g. “Before and After” photographs used to promote weight loss products (if not otherwise prohibited) should accurately portray the actual weight lost over the stated period;
  4. use #ad: advertisers should not pretend to be consumers, and neither should third parties paid to promote their products — see CAP’s guide to making clear that ads are ads;
  5. avoid incentivising positive endorsements: encouraging customers to post positive reviews may breach the CAP Code, as may amending or deleting negative reviews (although removing genuinely offensive comments, personal information or potentially illegal content is likely to be fine);
  6. be aware of restricted categories: marketers should take particular care around sensitive ad categories, e.g. neither health professionals nor celebrities should be used to endorse medicines; and
  7. ensure they comply more generally: “Yeah, but the customer said it” is not an excuse to circumvent the CAP Code; testimonials must not make claims that would otherwise break the rules.

To read the guide in full and for links to further guidance and information, click here.