The dos and don'ts of advertising during the General Election

With the general election fast approaching, not to mention dominating the news, we wanted to take a breather from the manifestos and debates and instead look at the advertising that surrounds the parties and candidates. From restrictions on spending to a content free-for-all on non-broadcast mediums, there are a number of rules and regulations unique to political advertising. So let us walk you through them so you’re in the loop ahead of next week! 


In the lead up to the general election, spending by parties and candidates is limited and funding for that spending is meticulously controlled. The rules are complicated and do depend on the size of the area you’re campaigning in, but each individual candidate can spend no more than £15,000. A party contesting all 650 seats in the UK on 7th May 2015 can spend up to £19.5 million by way of campaign advertising spend. 

Misleading Content

By law, TV news has to be fair and balanced. However, there are no such restrictions on non-broadcast political advertising. In the past, newspapers have played on this and tabloids definitely don’t hold back!

Biased Broadcasting

Political advertising on television and radio is banned in the UK by the Communications Act 2003. However, for the first time ever, this year parties are placing paid-for political adverts and campaign videos on social media (namely YouTube) to attract new voters. Parties are also given a small amount of free air time on channels like the BBC and ITV with the introduction: “This is a party election broadcast brought to you by…

Intrusive Campaigning

When it comes to direct marketing, political parties and candidates have the right to send a freepost mailing to all those on the electoral register, regardless of the recipient’s wishes. However, as information about a person’s political opinion is treated as highly sensitive, national parties, constituency associations and local associations may all need to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office to show they are processing personal data. 

Take down your posters!

Lastly, to everyone who has put a poster up or a temporary sign in their front garden, make sure you take it down promptly once all votes have been cast. Legally, all posters have to be removed within two weeks of the decision.

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