Information on the flag referendums advertising rules

Posted 18 August 2015.

The ASA has received the below information about advertising relating to the flag referendums.

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The Electoral Commission is responsible for conducting the two flag referendums. Part of the Commission’s role is to provide guidance and advice about the referendum advertising rules.

If you will be publishing any referendum advertising or other material that relates to the referendum you need to be aware of the referendum advertising rules.

The key messages for anyone proposing to publish anything that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote or not to vote in a particular way, are that:

• Referendum advertisements must include a promoter statement including the name and street address of the person who has instigated the advertisement;

• Only certain advertising mediums will be caught (broadcast television/radio, billboards, newspapers, magazines journals and professionally printed brochures, pamphlets, flyers, handbills or posters; and

• Anything published online is exempt from the referendum advertising rules.

If this sounds like you or your organisation, please read the Commission’s guide to referendum advertising rules which is attached and also available on our website:

If you have any questions, or need advice on a particular publication, you can contact the Electoral Commission phone (04) 495 0030 or

email: We are here to help.

​A reminder that Rule 11 of the ASA Code of Ethics is also likely to apply to this advertising – it says:

11.Advocacy Advertising - Expression of opinion in advocacy advertising is an essential and desirable part of the functioning of a democratic society. Therefore such opinions may be robust. However, opinion should be clearly distinguishable from factual information. The identity of an advertiser in matters of public interest or political issue should be clear.

While the promoter statement requirement does not in this instance apply to online advertising, any advertising that meets the ASA definition of advertisement will need to make the identity of the advertiser clear to comply with Rule 11 above.