In a television commercial, a cool teenager confides that he is extremely tense about his final exams. Luckily, he has Original Clear Mind, ‘which helps me concentrate better and improves my academic performance’. The applicant considered touting this product to minors to be a grave mistake. The applicant was confusing ordinary CBD oil with the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis: THC. The President was drawn in by this reasoning: the advertising was prohibited because of the nature of the product. But the Dutch Children and Youth Advertising Code (Kinder- en Jeugd-reclamecode, KJC) contains no such rule. A question of principle was then posed to the Advertising Code Committee (Reclame Code Commissie, RCC). The question: can an advertising code rule be interpreted more broadly than the literal text? Advertiser Master Solution Secondment (MSS) thought not: ‘in a self-regulating industry, the parties active in that industry themselves determine precisely what can and what cannot be in an advertisement. If necessary, those agreements can be amended in a short period of time. While the RCC may interpret unclear or vague provisions, it cannot simply promulgate new rules on its own. The situation in self-regulation is thus different than it would be in court.’ The RCC does not say so in so many words, but the result is indeed not an ‘extensive’ interpretation of the advertising rules. There is no provision in the KJC that prohibits an advertiser from advertising due to the nature of a product. The complaint was dismissed.
It is an important decision that provides guidance: the RCC is free to colour within the lines, but cannot make any new rules.
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