A big part of our job in TV advertising is clearing adverts to go on air. Mostly this is a straight-forward process of proving legal claims and making sure adverts are appropriate for the viewing public. Advertising rules and regulations in the UK are run by an organisation called Clearcast.

Clearing an ad full of orgasms

Sometimes things are a little more tricky. Below is the response we received to a rough-cut submitted to Clearcast -the UK TV Advertising clearing organisation. The advert was to be shown once on late-night Channel 4 and was used to promote the Aids awareness charity – Frontline Aids (Formerly – International HIV/AIDS Alliance)

Clearcast Response

“The morning meeting agreed that the submitted rough-cut goes much further than what the script indicated, elements of which are unacceptable for TV advertising in the UK. I suggest that the scenes that are fairly explicit and unambiguously depicting penetration and oral sex go too far. Scenes depicting intimate interaction and the ‘O face’ are likely to be acceptable.

Here is a breakdown of what I think needs to be removed. There are other scenes in-between but I thought they wouldn’t look as bad (especially with the other stuff removed) because they are somewhat less explicit.

Hopefully, this advice will help you get an approval edit with a post 11 pm restriction.”

A blow by blow critique

advertising rules

a) 10 seconds in there is a man onto of a woman, thrusting.

TV advertising rules

b) 27 seconds in, a man with anal beads over his shoulder fellating a drag queen.

asa rules on advertising

c) 31 seconds in, a man on top of a woman, in what looks and sounds to be a penetrative moment.

Advertising regulations

d) 35 seconds in there appears to be two mascots, a chicken and a fox engaged in intercourse.

TV advert rules

e) 36 seconds in, a woman is engaged in intercourse with a transvestite.

Advertising rules and regulations

And again at 40 seconds

Advertising rules guidelines

f) At 41 seconds there is a man having intercourse on top of a woman

TV advertising rules

g) At about 42 seconds in there’s a scene of a couple having sex over some railings.

advertising rules

h) At 46 seconds in, I think it’s pretty clear the gent in the glasses is being penetrated.

TV advert rules and regulations

i) 49 seconds in a man and woman seem clearly engaged in penetrative sex.

Kind regards, Clearcast.


Working within the Advertising Rules and Regulations

As part of Toast’s production service, we handle all of your advertising rules and regulations requirements. Clearcast has a simple remit, to make sure that broadcasters can’t show ads that are misleading, harmful or offensive. This encompasses who the advert is being shown to and when. That what is saying is true and appropriate for the audience and that any claims are substantiated. To this end, we work with the team at Clearcast from the very beginnings of a creative and throughout the process to broadcast.

Clearing scripts

Sending early scripts, animatics, test films and then rough cuts means we can pre-empt any issues and adjust accordingly, if there are claims to be substantiated we come back to you at this stage rather than at the end. Often a change in wording at this stage can avoid a 5 line legal disclaimer on the picture for the length of your ad. From an early stage, we can start to think where the legals will be placed, often again dictated by the script. Sometimes a simple ’T’s&C’s apply’ will suffice but with financial products and services, it can be much more complicated. Pharmaceutical products have another set of rules and an additional watchdog – the PAGB.

Technical rules

Technically adding the legal text has a set of rules (line-height, length of hold, legibility) Again we start early, the Clearcast website has a ‘length of hold ‘calculator link but we need to take into consideration any other words on the screen at the time so working with the script, the VO and the visuals allows us to optimise the positioning of the text.


If you need help clearing a script for a UK TV advert or would like advice on specific advertising rules and regulations – do get in touch.

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