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Say What Now? #6: Who Gives You The Rights?!

Peach People Hayley Mills and Natalie Akers explain how to guide your campaign through the potentially murky waters of rights and clearance, and why Covid-19 is making expert advice more valuable than ever.

Don’t leave anything to chance. 

For as long as we can remember, those have been words to live by when it comes to rights and clearance - and for good reason. Over the years, we’ve seen campaigns trip up in the most ridiculous (and costly) ways, and it can all be so avoidable.

Some of the more unpredictable and, frankly, wackier rights and clearance issues which have been causing problems to advertisers include (but are not limited to):

  • All Shook Up: If you want to include an Elvis Presley impersonator in your ad, you’ll need to clear that with the Elvis Presley estate. Fortunately enough, they still meet once a month to discuss precisely these issues.
  • An Eye For An Eiffel: If you want to use an image of the Eiffel Tower in the daytime, that’s absolutely fine. If you want an image or film of it at night, however, you’ll need to clear that with the electronics manufacturer Phillips, who owns all the lightbulbs which illuminate the famous landmark after dark. 
  • Picture Pear-fect: Staying in France, you’ll want to be careful when it comes to including a fruit bowl in your ad. You must ensure that your fruit bowl is on a dining room table and not any other surface or room in a house (including a kitchen). From what we understand, this is in order to promote healthy lifestyles.
  • I Ink, Therefore I Am: One thing which has been catching out more and more campaigns is actors with tattoos. Given that a lot of people like to get tattoos of intellectual property (this could be the crest of a football team or an album cover, for example), this is causing headaches when it comes to getting the rights for redistributing these images.
  • Barking Around: If you’re planning on dressing up a dog for the purposes of your ad in the UK, you’ll need to ensure that you can prove you purchased your dog’s costume from a pet store. 

Clearly, the world of rights and clearances is fraught with the kinds of pitfalls and risks which wouldn’t naturally occur to anyone during the initial script or planning phases of a campaign. It’s nigh-on impossible to be aware of everything that can go wrong, and anyone who doesn’t live and breathe regulations can’t be expected to be on top of it all. Whilst those listed above are some of the more amusing, the most common and frustrating examples we see cropping up tend to be fairly mundane.

For example, do you have a car pop up in frame at any point in your ad? If so, best ensure it’s in top condition, otherwise you may struggle to get clearance from its manufacturer. Are you making a Christmas ad? You’ll need to be aware of the UK law banning religious songs in adverts, and pick your Christmas carol of choice wisely. Do you have an animal on-set? Make sure you have a signed letter from a qualified vet to prove it wasn’t harmed during any stage of production. The list goes on and on.

As if to ramp up the pressure, the UK’s ad clearance body, ClearCast, won’t be responsible for any rights issues you run into. If you make a costly rights error, the consequences will be yours to bear. 

Covid Complications

All of the above made getting your ad through clearance bodies without any rights issues enough of a potential minefield long before Coronavirus threw everything into chaos. The pandemic has further complicated matters, with a slew of new rules and regulations to contend with.

For example, child actors in some cases will now need an extra letter of declaration from their parents. One ad we were involved in recently featured both child actors and a dog, so in addition to that, we had to ensure we had a certificate from the vet proving the dog was Covid-free, plus we needed a professional dog trainer on-set as well as the dog’s owner. Oh, and they both needed to be medically assessed. 

All in all, you’re far safer speaking to the experts before you start on any campaign. At Peach People, we help companies with the admin around video advertising, and can be involved right from the early stages of a campaign so that everyone involved knows where they stand before these obstacles even have a chance to come up.

Despite a rapidly changing world, that age-old advice rings truer than ever. Why leave anything to chance? 

Hayley Mills and Natalie Akers are both part of the Peach People team. To discuss your campaign, you can reach out to Hayley and Natalie here

11 September 2020

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