CMA’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice is the foundation of the marketing community’s self-regulation. Unlike many other Codes that are only guidelines, CMA’s Code is compulsory for members and as such is a comprehensive regulatory framework governing members’ conduct.
A. The Canadian Marketing Association
We champion Marketing as a key driver of business success
Shaping the future of Marketing in Canada by:
- Creating a marketplace for Marketing to succeed;
- Ensuring the strategic role of Marketing within organizations;
- Building great Marketers and exceptional business leaders.
The Canadian Marketing Association is the largest marketing association in Canada. Its members include corporations and organizations which encompass Canada's major business sectors and which represent the integration and convergence of all marketing disciplines, channels and technologies.
B. Purpose of CMA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
The CMA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice (the “Code”) is designed to establish and maintain standards for the conduct of marketing in Canada.
Marketers acknowledge that the establishment and maintenance of high standards of practice are a fundamental responsibility to the public, essential to winning and holding consumer confidence, and the foundation of a successful and independent marketing industry in Canada.
Members of the Canadian Marketing Association recognize an obligation – to the consumers and businesses they serve, to the integrity of the discipline in which they operate and to each other – to practise to the highest standards of honesty, truth, accuracy, fairness and professionalism.
C. Definition of Marketing
Marketing is a set of business practices designed to plan for and present an organization’s products or services in ways that build effective customer relationships.
D1 Intent of the Code
This Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice applies to CMA member organizations regardless of business sector, sub-discipline or advertising medium employed. Its intention is to identify the ethical principles and best practices that member organizations of the Canadian Marketing Association consider essential to the conduct of marketing and marketing communications activity in Canada.
This Code does not purport to replace legal advice or provide legal guidance. Marketers should inform themselves about relevant laws that apply in their jurisdiction including, but not limited to the federal Competition Act and consumer, privacy and language laws in Canada.
D2 Consumer Marketing
This Code applies in its entirety to consumer marketing.
D3 Business-to-Business Marketing
This Code generally applies to business-to-business marketing, with specific exemptions for those practices identified as exclusively relating to consumer marketing.
D4 Not-for-Profit Organizations
This Code applies in its entirety to marketing activities conducted by charitable or not-for-profit organizations. The terms “consumers” or “businesses” referenced throughout this Code should be regarded as interchangeable with the more common not-for-profit sector descriptors for donors or supporters.
D5 Organizations Marketing Internationally
Organizations selling abroad are governed by this Code unless doing so contravenes the laws of foreign jurisdictions.
D6 Other Codes and Regulations
The Canadian Marketing Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice is intended to stand alongside the codes and standards of other Canadian marketing, advertising and sector-specific organizations. Marketers should inform themselves about relevant marketing practices that relate to pharmaceuticals, alcoholic beverages, gambling, personal products, cosmetics, food, nutrition, labeling, tobacco, financial services, gender portrayal, broadcast advertising and advertising to children. Marketers are also encouraged to review those guidelines referenced throughout the CMA Code of Ethics.
E. Responsibility for Marketing Communications
Marketers are responsible for the content of their marketing communications and the practices of their suppliers and advertising agencies when in the course of executing marketing communications on their behalf. This responsibility extends to suppliers which are not CMA members.
For responsibilities of service providers, please refer to Section O of this Code.
F. "Must" vs. "Should"
Throughout this Code, use of the word "must" indicates that a clause is compulsory for marketers. Use of the word “should” indicates that the clause is not compulsory but strongly encouraged as a best practice.
G. Demonstration of Commitment
G1 Annual Confirmation
CMA members must confirm their compliance with this Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice annually. Each member organization has a designated Voting Member who must sign the compliance clause on their membership application and annual renewal:
"My company/organization agrees to comply with the CMA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, to participate in CMA’s Operation Integrity program, and, for the purposes of marketing to consumers, to participate in the CMA Do Not Contact service".
G2 Supporting the Code
To demonstrate support for this Code and to actively promote widespread awareness of its principles, ethical practices and obligations, member organizations should:
- ensure that employees engaged in the marketing process are familiar with its content;
- prominently display their CMA Membership plaque in their place of business; and
- include the Association logo in their marketing communications (see also CMA’s Member Logo Use Guidelines).
H. Overarching Ethical Principles
H1 Personal Information Practices
Marketers must promote responsible and transparent personal information management practices in a manner consistent with the provisions of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (Canada) and/or applicable provincial legislation and the 10 privacy principles detailed in Section J of this Code.
Marketing communications must not omit material facts and must be clear, comprehensible and truthful. Marketers must not knowingly make a representation to a consumer or business that is false or misleading.
H3 Campaign Limitations
H3.1 Marketers must not participate in any campaign involving the disparagement or exploitation of any person or group on the grounds of race, colour, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or age.
H3.2 Marketers must not participate in the dissemination of unsolicited material that is sexually explicit, vulgar or indecent in nature, except where required to do so by law, such as a common carrier.
H3.3 Marketers must not participate in the dissemination of any material that unduly, gratuitously and without merit exploits sex, horror, mutilation, torture, cruelty, violence or hate, except where required to do so by law, such as a common carrier.
H3.4 Marketers must not knowingly exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of any consumer, taking particular care when dealing with vulnerable consumers. The term "vulnerable consumer" includes, but is not limited to children, teenagers, people with disabilities, the elderly and those for whom English or French is not their first language.
I. Universal Marketing Practices
These practices apply regardless of industry sector, sub-discipline or marketing medium employed.
I1 Accuracy of Representation
I1.1 Marketers must not misrepresent a product, service, marketing program or make any other misleading representation, even if not directly related to the product or service, and must not mislead by statement or manner of demonstration or comparison.
I1.2 Photography, artwork, type size, colour, contrast, style, placement, verbal description and audio-visual portrayal must accurately and fairly describe the product or service offered.
I1.3 Marketers must recognize the importance of the general impression of the marketing communication and must ensure that it can be readily comprehended upon first exposure and, even if strictly true, does not deceive by omission or commission.
Marketing communications must be executed in a manner that is simple and easy to understand.
Disclaimers in any medium must be clear and prominent, easily accessible, with a reasonable expectation to be both read and understood by the average consumer, in close proximity to the representations to which they relate.
Disclaimers may be used to clarify, expand upon or explain the basis of a claim.
Disclaimers should not be used to contradict the general impression created by the main body of the advertisement or the plain meaning of the disclaimed words.
I4 Support for Claims
Test or survey data referred to in any marketing communication must be established prior to the claim being made, reliable, valid and current and must support the specific claim, as it is likely to be perceived. Marketers must be able to substantiate the basis for any performance, efficacy or length of life claim or comparison and must not imply a scientific, factual or statistical basis where none exists.
I5.1 Marketers should identify themselves and must not engage in marketing communications in the guise of one purpose when the intent is a different purpose.
I5.2 Marketers must not claim to be carrying out a survey or research when their real purpose is to sell a product or service, to promote a business interest or to raise funds.
I5.3 Marketers must not mislead or deceive consumers or businesses into believing that a marketing communication is news, information, public service or entertainment programming when its purpose is to sell products or services, to promote business interests or to seek donations to causes or charities.
I5.4 Marketers should disclose to consumers and businesses all relevant aspects of their relationship regarding agents engaging in word of mouth marketing activities, including those appearing to act independently and without compensation. For guidance, marketers should consult the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct and Social Media Marketing Disclosure Guide.
I5.5 Marketing communications that appear to be genuine invoices or government documents must not be used.
Testimonials and endorsements must be:
- authorized with appropriate permissions by the person or organization quoted;
- genuine and related to the experience of the person or organization quoted, both at the time made and at the time of the marketing communication;
- positioned as opinion, not fact, unless supported by valid research; or
- not taken out of context so as to distort the opinion or experience of the person or organization quoted; or
- careful not to imply the existence of an affiliation between the marketer and the person or organization quoted when none exists.
For more information members should consult the Competition Bureau's guidelines regarding testimonials.
Descriptions and promises must reflect actual conditions, situations and circumstances, including relevant promotion dates and any restrictions, existing at the time of the promotion.
Unless the promotional material appropriately advises the consumer or business of limited stock, marketers must ensure that quantities are sufficient to meet reasonably foreseeable demand. In cases where there is limited stock, and marketers do not supply sufficient notice of it, rain-cheques should be made available to consumers.
I9 Price Claims
I9.1 Terms such as "regular price", "suggested retail value", "manufacturer's list price", and "fair market value", must represent prices at which a substantial volume of the item has been sold in the relevant marketplace for a reasonable period of time before or after the representation was made, or prices at which the item has been sold in good faith for a substantial period of time recently before or immediately after the representation was made. As such, sales should not continue for an extended period of time.
Marketers should be aware of the difference in legislative requirements for making price claims against one's own "ordinary selling price" and claims against the market more generally.
For guidance in satisfying these requirements, marketers should reference the Competition Bureau's Enforcement Guidelines on Ordinary Price Claims.
I9.2 Where price discounts are offered, qualifiers such as "up to", and "xx off" must be presented in easily readable form, and in proximity to the prices quoted. Reasonable quantities of items or services on promotion should be available at discount levels across and up to the range quoted.
I10 Use of the word "Free"
I10.1 Products or services offered without cost or obligation on the part of the consumer or business may be described as "free", or similar.
I10.2 "Free" may also be used to describe a premium or incentive to purchase products or services, if
- any cost or obligation is clearly and prominently identified in close proximity to the word "free"; or
- the price of the original product has not been specifically inflated to cover the cost of the premium;
Prices quoted in Canada must be in Canadian dollars, unless otherwise clearly identified.I12 Comparative Advertising
Comparisons included in marketing communications must be factual, verifiable and not misleading. They must compare similar aspects of the products or services being assessed.
Marketing communications should not stress insignificant differences designed to lead the consumer or business to draw a false conclusion. Marketers are cautioned against the use of hyperbole (See also Advertising Standards Canada Guidelines for the Use of Comparative Advertising.)
Marketers must also be aware of the intellectual property considerations that may arise in comparative advertising.
Marketers must not use inaccurate information to attack, degrade, discredit or damage the reputation of competitor's products, services, advertisements or organizations.
I14.1 Prior to a buying, streaming or downloading activity by a customer, marketing offers must provide all the information necessary to make an informed decision to commit and / or engage. Marketers must take reasonable steps to ensure that the agreement to enter a contract is fully informed and intentional. Specific disclosure and agreement documentation requirements under provincial consumer protection legislation must be complied with.
Precise disclosures will depend on the marketed product or service and on the sales channel, taking into account legislative requirements, including but not necessarily limited to the:
- exact nature of what is being offered;
- price, including all additional charges such as delivery costs and handling costs or that data charges may apply (if applicable)
- terms of payment, including late payment penalties;
- customer's commitment and any ongoing obligation in placing an order;
- time(s) and place(s) of delivery or performance;
- delivery arrangements including shipping terms;
- return and cancellation policies and procedures;
- substitution policies;
- guarantees and warranties; and
- marketer contact information
I14.2 For business-to-business transactions, all information necessary for a reasonable business to make an informed purchase decision, including the disclosures described in I14.1, must be presented at the time of the original offer and agreement. In the case of an ongoing relationship, the information must be presented again only when there is a material change.
I14.3 All material changes, including amendments, renewals and extensions, to an agreement require consent and must comply with legislative requirements. Such new consent should be explicit and preferably in writing. Consent may not be inferred from the customer's behaviour, including payment for the goods or services.
I14.4 Disclosures of offers must be clear, comprehensive and prominent. They must present all items material to a decision and be available in a form which permits the customer access to the information.
I14.5 Full and fair disclosure must be made of the terms of the offer including not just wording, but the manner of presentation of the price, including additional charges, terms and conditions, customer commitments and obligations. Information that, by the use of photography, artwork, type size, colour, contrast, placement, verbal description, audio-visual portrayal or other means, materially distorts the clarity of the offer or exceptions to it must not be used.
I15 Fulfilment Practices
Specific requirements concerning shipment timing, delays, back-orders, substitutions, cancellation provisions, complaint handling, refund practices and written confirmations are dependent on the nature of the agreement as defined in relevant consumer protection and other laws.
In addition to legal compliance, marketers must provide a copy of the purchase agreement to consumers, in order for it to be binding, and should adopt practices of maximum transparency in notifying consumers and businesses about their order status and delivery timing.
I15.1 Delivery: Goods offered must be delivered and services performed within 30 days of the receipt of a properly completed order, or within any shorter period that may be prescribed by applicable law or within the time limit stated in the original agreement.
I15.2 Delay: If delivery or performance will be delayed, the consumer or business must be advised within 30 days of the receipt of the order, or within any shorter period that may be prescribed by an applicable law or within the time limit stated in the original agreement.
I15.3 Order Cancellation: Marketers must give consumers or businesses the right to cancel an order for goods or services which cannot be delivered or performed within 30 days, or any shorter period that may be prescribed by an applicable law, or within the time stated in the original agreement, without cost of obligation to the consumer or business.
I15.4 Substitution: Any substitution of goods to those originally offered and ordered must be disclosed to and approved by the consumer or business before shipment. The consumer or business must be informed that they have the right to accept or reject goods substituted, without additional obligation or cost, including return shipping cost.
I15.5 Guarantees and Warranties: Any guarantee provided with the provision of goods or services must clearly identify the name and address of the guarantor, the duration of such guarantee and any other required disclosures under applicable Consumer Protection law. Any valid request under the terms of a guarantee for repair, replacement, refund or other remedy must be honoured promptly.
I16 Automatically Billed Products or Services
Automatically billed products or services plans – in which the consumer or business agrees to receive and be billed for products or services on a continuing basis – are permitted.
The marketer must clearly inform the consumer or business of all material terms and obligations in the original marketing communication, including whether there is a right to cancel.
Marketers should not omit disclosure of any information that would reasonably be expected to affect the purchasing decisions of the average consumer.
Any material change in the products or services offered to a consumer or business who has previously agreed to be automatically billed for those products or services requires the marketer to obtain new consent. Such new consent should be explicit and preferably in writing. Consent may not be inferred from the customer's behaviour, including payment for the goods or services.
I17 Unordered Products and Services
Marketers must not send unsolicited products or services to a consumer or business for which they invoice, bill or otherwise demand payment. Consumers or businesses have no obligation in respect of the use or disposal of unordered products or services.
Marketers must establish and communicate fair, effective and timely procedures to handle complaints from consumers or businesses, having regard to any legally imposed response time requirements that may exist in particular circumstances.
Marketers must comply with the applicable Canadian laws governing the disabled. Marketers should inform themselves and strive to adopt best practices where financially or operational feasible.
J. Protection Of Personal Privacy
All consumer marketers must abide by the Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act (PIPEDA), and/or applicable provincial privacy laws and the following ten Privacy Principles from the National Standard of Canada and five additional requirements as outlined in this section.
J1 Ten Privacy Principles:
Accountability: An organization is responsible for personal information under its control and shall designate an individual or individuals who are accountable for the organization’s compliance with the following principles.
Identifying Purposes: The purposes for which personal information is collected shall be identified by the organization at or before the time the information is collected.
Consent: The knowledge and consent of the individual are required for the collection, use or disclosure of personal information, except where inappropriate.
Limiting Collection: The collection of personal information shall be limited to that which is necessary for the purposes identified by the organization. Information shall be collected by fair and lawful means.
Limiting Use, Disclosure and Retention: Personal information shall not be used or disclosed for purposed other than those for which it was collected, except with the consent of the individual or as required by law. Personal information shall be retained only as long as necessary for the fulfillment of those purposes.
Accuracy: Personal information shall be as accurate, complete and up-to-date as is necessary for the purposes for which it is being used.
Safeguards: Personal information shall be protected by security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information.
Openness: An organization shall make readily available to individuals specific information about its policies and practices relating to the management of personal information.
Individual Access: Upon request, an individual shall be informed of the existence, use and disclosure of his or her personal information and shall be given access to that information. An individual shall be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information and have it amended as appropriate.
Challenging Compliance: An individual shall be able to address a challenge concerning compliance with the above principles to the designated individual or individuals accountable for the organization’s compliance.
J2 Privacy and Business-to-Business
Business-to-business marketing is exempt from PIPEDA and from the 10 Privacy Principles above when the collection, use or disclosure of contact information is limited to name, and/or title/position, and/or business address(es), and/or business phone number(s). If any other personal information is collected, used or disclosed then the provisions of PIPEDA and this section apply.
J3 Use of CMA Do Not Contact Service
Marketers must use CMA’s Do Not Contact Service when conducting a consumer mail campaign. The service must be used regardless of whether the campaign is being conducted in-house or through the use of an agency. This does not apply to B2B marketing, or to current customers, who can separately request that they be included on an organization’s internal do not contact list. When conducting telephone and/or fax marketing campaigns, marketers must use the federal government’s National Do Not Call List in accordance with the rules of that program.
J4 Opt-Out Opportunity
Recognizing that a consumer can opt-out of receiving marketing communications at any time, marketers must present consumers, including current customers, an easy-to-see, easy-to-understand and easy-to-execute opportunity to decline further marketing use of their name or other information at least once every three years. See also Sections N3.9 and N5.5 of this Code, Fax Marketing Opt-Out and E-mail Marketing Opt-Out.
J5 Source of Personal Information
Marketers must provide consumers with the source of their personal information, upon request.
J6 List Rental Practices
Marketers must only rent or transfer their lists where they have a contractual guarantee that list users will abide by the relevant privacy laws in Canada. Further, marketers should adopt a list rental and data transfer policy that limits rental of information only to organizations that agree to comply with Section J3 of this Code, Use of CMA Do Not Contact Service. (See also CMA List and Data Transfer Guidelines.)
K. Special Considerations in Marketing to Children
By definition, Section K of this Code applies to consumer marketers only.
In addition to the rest of this Code, and to specific legal requirements of the relevant jurisdiction(s), when marketing to children, marketers must adhere to the following requirements.
For purposes of this Code, the term child refers to someone who has not reached his or her 13th birthday.
Marketing to children imposes a special responsibility on marketers. Marketers must recognize that children are not adults and that not all marketing techniques are appropriate for children.
When marketing to persons between 13 years and the age of majority, marketers are strongly cautioned that children may be exposed to these communications and, in such cases, these interactions with children are governed by the following guidelines concerning consent. See also Section L3 of this Code regarding Consent in Marketing to Teenagers.
K3.1 Except as provided for below in Section K4 of this Code, Contests Directed to Children, all marketing interactions directed to children that include the collection, transfer and requests for personal information require the opt-in consent of the child's parent or guardian.
K3.2 Where the child, parent or guardian withdraws or declines permission to collect, use or disclose a child's information, marketers must immediately delete all such information from their database.
K4 Contests Directed to Children
Subject to applicable laws, marketers may collect personal information from children for the purposes of contests without obtaining the parent or guardian's opt-in consent, only if the marketer:
- collects a minimal amount of personal information, sufficient only to determine the winner(s);
- deals only with the winner(s)' parent or guardian and does not contact the winner(s);
- does not retain the personal information following the conclusion of the contest or sweepstakes;
- makes no use of the personal information other than to determine the contest or sweepstakes winner(s); and
- does not transfer or make available the personal information to any other individual or organization.
Marketing to children must not exploit children's credulity, lack of experience or sense of loyalty.
K6 Age-Appropriate Language
When marketing to children, marketing communications must be age appropriate and presented in simple language, easily understood by children.
K7 Commercial Transactions
Marketers must not knowingly accept an order from a child without a parent or guardian's opt-in consent. Marketers must not pressure a child to urge their parents or guardians to purchase a product or service.
L. Special Considerations in Marketing to Teenagers
By definition, Section L of this Code applies to consumer marketers only.
In addition to the rest of this Code, when marketing to teenagers, marketers must adhere to the following requirements.
L1 Age and Application
For the purpose of this Code, the term teenager refers to someone who has reached their 13th birthday but has not yet reached the age of majority in their province or territory of residence.
These guidelines do not apply to teenagers living independently of their parents or guardians and who by federal, provincial or territorial statute or regulation are deemed to be adults.
Marketing to teenagers imposes special responsibilities on marketers. Marketers will use discretion and sensitivity in marketing to teenagers, to address the age, knowledge, sophistication and maturity of teenagers. Marketers should exercise caution that they do not take advantage of or exploit teenagers.
L2.1 Marketers must not portray sexual behaviour or violence that is inconsistent with community or industry standards.
L2.2 Marketers must respect the parent/guardian-teenager relationship and must not encourage the teenager to exclude parents or guardians from a purchase decision.
L2.3 Marketers must not solicit, collect or knowingly use personal information from teenagers as a means of acquiring further household information.
This section enables marketers to establish communication with teenagers in defined stages, according to the sensitivity or type of information, the teenager's age and the nature of the consent to be provided.
L3.1 Marketers must obtain the opt-in consent from a teenager under the age of 16 for the collection and use of their contact information. See Glossary of Terms of this Code for a definition of "contact information".
Marketers must obtain the opt-in consent of the parent or guardian prior to the disclosure of a teenager's contact information to a third party.
Marketers must obtain the opt-in consent of the parent or guardian for the collection, use or disclosure of personal information of a teenager under the age of 16.
L3.2 Marketers must obtain the opt-in consent from the teenager for the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information.
L3.3 Where the teenager, parent or guardian withdraws or declines the permission required to collect, use or disclose a teenager's information, marketers must immediately delete all such information from their database.
Summary of Consent Provisions for Marketing to Children and Teenagers
|Age||Type of Information||Opt-in Consent Requirement|
|Under 13||Any personal information||Parent or guardian|
|13, 14 and 15||Contact information only||Teenager|
|13, 14 and 15||Personal information beyond contact information||Teenager and parent or guardian|
|16 and over||Any personal information||Teenager*|
*Note: As per Section L3.3 of this Code, a parent or guardian can withdraw consent to use or disclose personal information for teenagers of all ages, including 16 years of age and over.
L4 Exposure to Children
When marketing to teenagers, marketers are strongly cautioned that children may be exposed to these communications and in such cases, these interactions with children are governed by the guidelines concerning consent in Section K of this Code, Special Considerations in Marketing to Children.
Marketing to teenagers must not unduly exploit teenagers' impressionability, or susceptibility to peer or social pressures. Marketers must not imply that possession or use of a product or service will make its owner superior to others, or that without it the individual will be open to ridicule or contempt.
L6 Age-Appropriate Language
Marketers must use language that is age-appropriate and easy to understand when marketing to teenagers.
L7 Commercial Transactions
Marketers must be aware that transactions with teenagers may not be legally enforceable against the teenager, or his or her parent or guardian.
M. Sub-Disciplines and Specific Marketing Practices
In addition to the rest of this Code, marketers must adhere to the following requirements when employing specific marketing strategies and techniques.
M1 Direct Marketing and Catalogue
As the collection, use and disclosure of personal information is closely linked to direct marketing, marketers must be aware of the principles detailed in Section J of this Code, Protection of Personal Privacy.
M1.1 Renting Lists: Marketers and list owners or their representatives must define the parameters of the intended use of the list prior to the deployment of a marketing communication. Unless otherwise agreed to and specified in the list or data transfer contract:
- A list or data transaction permits one-time use only.
- Marketers may not transfer personal information from rented lists to their own marketing or customer files.
- Consistent with the definition of current customer, marketers may continue to contact those consumers or businesses that respond to direct marketing or to catalogue solicitations.
M1.2 Accessibility of the Marketer: All direct marketing and catalogue marketing communications must identify the marketer's name and a complete mailing address or telephone number.
M1.3 Pre-notification Membership Plans or Clubs: A pre-notification subscription membership plan or club is a contractual plan offered by marketers to consumers. Under these plans, the seller pre-notifies the member of a selection that will be sent to the member and billed for unless the member instructs the seller, in a method provided by the seller, not to provide the selection.
Advertising and promotional material for a pre-notification membership plan must clearly, comprehensibly and prominently disclose material terms before soliciting a contract from a consumer. Material terms include: number of selections in a 12-month period; number of days to instruct the seller not to ship; and any minimum purchase or membership term. A consumer must provide explicit consent to join.
For more information on disclosure requirements, see section I14 of this Code.
M1.4 Continuity Programs (also known as Advance Consent Marketing Plans): Programs where the consumer or business gives consent to receive and pay for products or services on a continuing or periodic basis until the recipient cancels the plan are subject to the requirements laid out in Section I16 of this Code, Automatically Billed Products and Services.
M1.5 E-commerce: Marketers selling products and services online must:
- provide a clear order confirmation process that allows the consumer to confirm his or her interest in buying, see all relevant details of his or her order, confirm the accuracy of the details and print the details of the order as submitted;
- send a separate confirmation e-mail as soon as possible after the online portion of a transaction has been completed, including a copy of or link to the agreement; and
- provide an online "click-through" mechanism for consumers to contact the marketer.
M1.6 Protection of Personal Information
Considering the fundamental importance of customer and prospect databases in direct marketing and cataloguing, marketers should give particular attention to the requirements in Section J of this Code, Protection of Personal Privacy. Marketers are also encouraged to consult CMA’s Canadian Privacy Compliance Guide and CMA Opt-Out Consent Guidelines.
M2 Sales Promotion
M2.1 Lotteries and Contests: The use of contests or prizes in the promotion of goods or services must conform to the laws of Canada. These marketing practices are highly regulated by law and marketers should obtain guidance from legal experts and/or professional contest administrators.
Marketers must provide adequate and fair disclosure of all terms and conditions of a contest in a manner that is clear, visible, easy to find, easy to read and easy to understand. Marketers are encouraged to consult the Competition Bureau's Enforcement Guidelines on Promotional Contests for more information.
See also, Section K4 of this Code, Contests Directed to Children and CMA's Guide to Promotional Contests.
M2.2 Field Marketing: Field marketing is the face-to-face promotion or sale of products or services to consumers. It includes merchandising, sampling, demonstrations and events.
Marketers must ensure that information provided directly to consumers by field personnel is not misleading and does not employ unreasonably aggressive sales tactics. See also, Section I5.4 of this Code regarding undercover or word-of-mouth marketing initiatives. Field demonstrations must be carried out safely, by trained personnel.
M2.3 Sampling: Sampling: In certain industry sectors (e.g. pharmaceuticals, food, alcohol), this marketing practice is highly regulated and marketers should obtain guidance from legal experts and/or sampling specialists.
Marketers must take reasonable steps to ensure that samples are not distributed inappropriately to children or teenagers.
M3 Public Relations
Marketers are encouraged to consult the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) for more detailed guidance about professional standards in the practice of public relations.
M3.1 Dealing With the Media:In public relations activity, marketers must extend the practices identified in Section I1 of this Code, Accuracy of Representation, to dealings with the communications media as well as to consumers and to businesses.
M3.2 Gifts or Privileges: Marketers must not exert improper influence on editorial decisions by giving away significant gifts or privileges.
M3.3 Disclosure: When engaged in marketing or public relations activity in the public arena on behalf of a client, public relations service providers must disclose the identity of their client.
Marketers are encouraged to consult the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) for detailed guidance about professional standards in the practice of research.
M4.1 Validity: Marketers must ensure that test, survey or other data reported in marketing communications is produced in accordance with established scientific principles and generally accepted research practices so that it is valid and reliable (technically reproducible). Claims must not take the research results out of context or distort them.
M4.2 Consent and Guarantees of Anonymity to Participants: Marketers must obtain consent for the use of personally identifiable information from individuals who are research participants. The use of research data is limited to that for which consent was given. Participants' anonymity must be respected where promised and they must be notified about observation techniques and recording equipment, except when the research takes place in a public place. Security measures must be in place to protect data containing personal information. Personal information may only be retained for as long as is necessary to carry out the purpose(s) for which the information has been collected.
M4.3 Special Care with Child Participants: Opt-in parental consent must be obtained when conducting research with children under 13; this requirement extends to teenagers under the age of 16 when they are to be interviewed for qualitative research purposes. In the case of research conducted online, marketers must use their best efforts to ensure that they do not elicit participation from children or teenagers without appropriate parental consent.
M4.4 Differentiation from Marketing: Bona fide market research must be clearly differentiated from other marketing activities and research interviews must not be used to sell products or services, develop sales leads, gather personal information or compile mailing lists.
Findings from survey-style questionnaires used within marketing communications or for customer service purposes must not be positioned, either explicitly or implicitly, as bona fide research unless it conforms to generally accepted research methodologies.
M4.5 Comparative Claims: Research that supports comparisons to other products or services must be subject to scrupulous methodologies. Marketers are encouraged to consult Advertising Standards Canada for their Guidelines for the Use of Comparative Advertising.
N. Media-Specific Standards of Practice
In addition to other provisions of this Code, marketers must adhere to the following requirements when employing specific media to communicate marketing messages.
N1 Broadcast, Including Direct Response Television and Infomercials
Marketers and their agencies should consult Advertising Standards Canada, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and the Television Bureau of Canada for detailed guidance about the development and clearance of commercials, infomercials and public service announcements.
N1.1 Misrepresentation: Marketers must not employ presentations likely to mislead the average consumer or businesse that the presentation is news, information, public service or entertainment programming. (Product placement within entertainment programming is acceptable.)
N1.2 Endorsement: Except where the endorser is identified as an expert or is a generally recognized celebrity (whose sole connection with the marketer is the payment of a fee for the endorsement), any material connection between the endorser and the marketer must be disclosed.
Results, experiences or findings of the endorser must be generally representative of the results to be expected by the average consumer or business. Alternatively, the marketer must clearly and conspicuously explain that the experiences or findings are not typical of the experiences of the average consumer or business.
Marketers should also reference section I6 of this Code.
N1.3 Direct Response Television: Commercials that solicit orders must clearly disclose the price, purchase terms, shipping costs and currency (if other than Canadian) and any other material terms of the offer in a clear, comprehensible and prominent manner.
N1.4 Infomercials and Transparency: Television commercial messages exceeding two continuous minutes in length must be preceded and followed by a clear or prominent video and oral announcement that the presentation is a paid commercial message. This announcement must identify the product or service being offered and the marketer's identity. The video and a clear written announcement must also be presented prior to each ordering opportunity.
Radio commercials exceeding three minutes in length must be identified as paid commercial messages by clear and prominent announcements at the beginning and end of the program. Should the program be interrupted for any reason, another such announcement must be made prior to the resumption of the program.
For those infomercials intended for adults only, the opening disclaimer must notify viewers that it contains content intended for adults. This notification must be provided in both audio and video.
N1.5 Radio Broadcasting: As a local medium that reflects community standards, marketers should take the local environment into consideration, including the programming environment, the station’s format and the composition of the station’s audience.
N2 Magazines, Newspapers and Trade Press
N2.1 Misrepresentation: Marketers must not employ text or design elements that mimic a publication’s editorial style unless the pages clearly and conspicuously contain the word "advertisement", "advertising" or "advertorial".
N2.2 Sponsored Sections: Where "advertorial" formats are used, the sponsored section must be identified as such.
N3 Telephone and Fax
These standards of practice apply to commercial solicitation relating to the purchase of products or services, or requests for charitable donation conveyed by telephone voice communications (also known as telemarketing), or by means of telephone facsimile (also known as fax). (See also CMA Telemarketing Guidelines.)
N3.1 Calling and Faxing Hours: Marketers must limit the hours of outbound telemarketing or faxing to the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. weekdays and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Restrictions refer to the time zone of the called party. Calling or faxing must not be undertaken on statutory holidays.
N3.2 Use of National Do Not Call List: Marketers must use the National Do Not Call List when conduction a consumer telemarketing or fax campaign.
N3.3 Internal Do Not Contact List: At the request of either a current customer or a consumer or business, marketers must promptly add telephone or fax numbers to an internal do not contact list and cease marketing to the current customer, consumer or business at that telephone or fax number. Telephone and fax numbers must be retained on the internal do not contact list for three years.
N3.4 Unlisted Numbers: Marketers must not knowingly call any consumer or business who has an unlisted or unpublished telephone number, except where the telephone number was furnished by the consumer or business to that marketer, or by a third-party with the consumer’s consent.
N3.5 Sequential Dialing: Marketers must not engage in sequential dialing.
N3.6 Random Dialing: Marketers must not engage in random dialing other than to a list or public directory where it is possible to remove telephone and/or fax numbers that are on the National Do Not Call List and/or on a marketer’s internal do not contact list.
N3.7 Unsolicited Fax Marketing: Marketers must not knowingly send unsolicited marketing communications by fax to consumers or businesses, except where the consumer or business is a current customer or has consented to receive such communications.
N3.8 Fax Marketing Identification and Contact Information: Marketers must identify the marketer on behalf of whom the fax is being sent, including the telephone number, fax number and name and address of a responsible person to whom the faxed party can write.
Marketers must display the originating faxing number or an alternate number where the sender can be reached, except where number display is unavailable for technical reasons.
N3.9 Fax Marketing Opt-Out: Marketers must provide an easy-to-see, easy-to-understand and easy-to-execute opt-out opportunity within each fax advertisement.
N3.10 Telephone Identification and Contact Information: Marketers must identify themselves, the business or organization represented and the purposes of the call promptly at the beginning of each outbound telemarketing call.
Upon request, the marketer must provide the marketer’s telephone number and the name and address of a responsible party to whom the called party can write.
Marketers must not block Caller ID information, unless there is a significant technological impediment to providing this information to the consumer.
N3.11 Voice Recording: Marketers must obey the laws concerning voice recording and they must advise consumers when recording a goods or services transaction.
N3.12 Frequency: Marketers must not knowingly contact a consumer who is not already a current customer more frequently than once per month for the same product or service unless they have received consent to do so. Business-to-business marketing is exempt from this requirement, as prospect development often requires more frequent contact, calling a business office is less intrusive than calling a consumer at home and B2B marketing often involves contacting multiple individuals within the same company.
N3.13 Use of Predictive Dialer Technology: Marketers using predictive dialer technology should ensure that abandoned or "hang up" calls be kept as close to 0% as possible, and must in no case exceed 5% of dialed calls for any given outbound telemarketing campaign.
N4 Mobile and Web
N4.1 Collection of electronic addresses (i.e. Email Addresses or Mobile Numbers): Marketers must identify the purpose for which an email address or mobile number is being requested prior to or at the time of collection.
The email address or mobile number that has been collected can be used only for those purposes identified, subject to N4.3 and N4.4.
N4.2 Published Business Email Addresses: Published business email addresses must only be used for marketing communications relevant to the business of the email recipient.
N4.3 Email Consent Marketers must not send email marketing communications without the consent of the recipient, except where there is an existing business relationship or an email address has been published, see N 4.2.
In cases where a consumer has provided his or her email address to a marketer, the marketer has implied consent to email that consumer.
N4.4 Consent For Text Messages Marketers must not knowingly send unsolicited voice or text messages to wireless devices of either consumers or businesses without prior consent.
N4.5 Internal Do Not Contact List At the request of a consumer or business, including a current customer, marketers must promptly add email addresses and mobile numbers to an internal do not contact list and cease marketing to that email address or mobile number.
N4.6 Email Marketing Unsubscribe Opportunity Every email message must clearly identify the marketer and source of the email and provide the recipient with a simple and easy-to-use click-through email marketing communications from the marketer.
N4.7 Text (SMS) Marketing Unsubscribe Opportunity Every text message must support the ability to stop participating and receiving text messages from a marketer's Short Code program.
N4.9 Email Disclosure Marketers must not misrepresent the source of any message or use false or misleading "subject" lines in e-mail marketing communications. The subject line and body text in e-mail marketing communications must accurately reflect the content, origin and purpose of the communications.
N4.10 Mobile and Web Disclosures Prior to a consumer streaming, attempting a downloading activity, or opting into a mobile marketing program, marketers must provide the information necessary to allow consumers to make an informed decision (i.e. additional data charges, applications and other content). Disclosures must be accessible for a reasonable time following a transaction, and, at a minimum, during the ongoing provision of goods and services that result from the transaction.
N4.11 Online Interest-based Advertising Online interest-based advertising, sometimes referred to as online behavioural advertising, refers to tracking consumers' online activities over time in order to deliver advertisements that are relevant to individuals' inferred interests. In advertising their goods or services through online interest-based advertising, marketers may directly or indirectly make use of service providers that include communications agencies, ad networks and website publishers.
The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and the CMA Code of Ethics apply to any personal information collected for internet and downloadable app interest-based advertising. Web browsing data may be considered personal information where that data can be connected to an identifiable individual. Without limiting the scope of these obligations, marketers should also be guided by the following principles when using internet and app interest-based advertising: (see also, Section J of this Code)
Transparency: Marketers using online interest-based advertising should ensure, by contract where necessary, that they, and the ad networks and website publishers used to display interest-based ads on their behalf, exercise transparency about the collection, use, disclosure and retention of data concerning consumers' online activities over time. Transparency means (a) openness and providing clear explanatory information about how browsing information is collected and what the information is used for and (b) an easy means to draw consumers' attention to that information; both in a manner consistent with accepted industry best practices.
Consent: Marketers must take the appropriate steps to ensure that the ad networks and online publishers that are used to display interest-based ads on their behalf offer consumers a clear and easy to see, easy to understand and easy to execute means to opt-out from having their online activities over time tracked to support the delivery of interest-based ads. Marketers using this type of advertising should ensure that they or their service providers use established industry best practices to provide notice of data collection, use, disclosure and retention for interest-based advertising, and that appropriate consent is being obtained from consumers. (see also, the CMA Opt-out Consent Guidelines)
Children: Marketers should not engage in or contract for the use of online interest-based advertising that is knowingly directed at, or knowingly conducted on, websites principally aimed at audiences of children under age 13, except in situations where express opt-in consent has been obtained separately from parent(s) or guardian(s). (See also, Section K of this code, Marketing to Children)
N4.12 Mobile and Web Contests Marketers must present all disclosures, terms and conditions of a contest in a manner that is clear, visible, easy to find, easy to read and easy to understand. Disclosures must be accessible for a reasonable time following a transaction, and, at a minimum, during the ongoing provision of goods and services that result from the transaction.
N4.13 Accessibility All consumer marketers must meet all legal requirements. Marketers should strive to meet the industry best practices like the W3C guidelines for the mobile web whenever that is feasible in operational and financial terms.
N5 Direct Mail
N5.1 Use of CMA Do Not Contact Service: Marketers must use CMA’s Do Not Contact Service when conducting a consumer direct mail campaign.
N5.2 Internal Do Not Contact List: At the request of a consumer or business, including a current customer, marketers must promptly add names and addresses to an internal do not contact list and cease marketing to that current customer, consumer or business at that address. Names and addresses must be retained on the internal do not contact list for three years.
N5.3 Security: All electronic transfer of data should be password protected and encrypted. For accepted standards, please refer to the CMA List and Data Transfer Guidelines.
N6 Out-of-Home/Outdoor Advertising
Marketers using media that deliver advertising messages in public arenas should ensure that the content of their messages is sensitive to and compatible with local community standards, particularly when located in proximity to elementary and secondary schools or to other places where children or teenagers tend to congregate.
O. Responsibilities of Service Providers: Suppliers, Media, Call Centres and Advertising/Marketing Communications Agencies
In their role as suppliers to marketers and as key contributors to the marketing industry, service providers are responsible for upholding the highest standards of professionalism and business conduct as set out in this Code and in particular this section.
Service providers must protect the confidentiality of their clients’ proprietary information by not disclosing it without opt-in consent from the client, unless required by law.
O2 List Transfer
Whenever lists are being transferred to a service provider, service providers must provide a contractual guarantee that they will abide by privacy laws in Canada as these apply to the transfer, handling or storage of the data. (See also CMA List and Data Transfer Guidelines.)
O3 Screening for Approval
List owners or their representatives should require marketers who are using their list to provide accurate samples of the marketing communications to help ensure that marketing communications comply with this Code.
O4 Use of CMA Do Not Contact Service
Service providers should encourage clients that are not CMA members to use CMA’s Do Not Contact Service when conducting a consumer mail marketing campaign.
O5 Conflict of Interest
Service providers must not:
- enter into a business relationship with a third-party that conflicts with their client’s interests, without the client’s knowledge; or
- accept compensation or rewards from third parties that create obligations detrimental to their client’s interests, without the client’s knowledge.
Service providers must not use inaccurate information to attack, degrade, discredit or damage the reputation of competitors.
Service providers must not misrepresent their competence, credentials, experience or professional capabilities.
Providers of creative services must not copy the work of others or claim authorship of others’ work without the consent of the originator or owner of the work.
While service providers are not normally responsible for the content of marketing materials they only disseminate or distribute (the "Publisher’s Defence"), they should insist on their clients’ compliance with this Code when they are aware of a breach or where they have a role in developing the content of the communications.
P. Protection of the Environment
Marketers recognize and acknowledge a continuing responsibility to manage their businesses to minimize environmental impact.
This responsibility should include the use of: targeted marketing techniques to improve the efficiency of addressed and unaddressed direct mail, printed advertising, brochures and inserts; environmentally friendly product packaging and shipping materials; recycled papers and environmentally benign inks and other materials; materials recycling programs; and the active encouragement of environmental responsibility among members of the business community.
In addition, marketers must use CMA’s Do Not Contact Service for consumer campaigns to reduce unwanted mailings, and thereby reduce wasted materials.
Q. Enforcement Procedures for the CMA Code of Ethics And Standards of Practice
Q1 Upon receipt of a consumer complaint regarding violation of this Code, whether regarding a member or a non-member, the Canadian Marketing Association will contact the organization and use the Association’s internal mediation procedures to attempt to resolve the consumer complaint.
Q2 If no response is received from a member organization within 30 days of the Association's inquiry, or a member organization fails to satisfy the consumer complaint within 90 days, the Association will write to the organization and ask for its compliance with the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
Q3 If the Association is not satisfied that the member organization has made best efforts to comply, the case shall be referred to an independent party for:
mediation between the Association and the member organization and resolution of the issue(s), or failing that,
a hearing before an independent panel of at minimum three persons, which will report and recommend a resolution and/or corrective action to the CMA Board of Directors.
Q4 Upon receipt of the panel’s report, or if the member organization does not participate in the process outlined in Q3, the Board of Directors shall hold a meeting to which the member organization in question is invited to attend and subsequently:
determine that the member organization is prepared to abide by the recommendations of the panel; or
order corrective action. If the CMA President is not satisfied that the order for corrective action has been complied with in a reasonable amount of time, the President shall refer the matter back to the Board for further disposition; or
expel the member organization and make a broad public announcement that it has done so.
Glossary of Terms
Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing: Marketing products or services to other companies, government bodies, institutions and other organizations.
Child: A person who has not reached his or her 13th birthday.
CMA Do Not Contact (DNC) Service / List: The CMA Do Not Contact Service enables consumers to reduce the number of marketing offers they receive by mail. Unless there is an existing business relationship, marketers must use the CMA DNC list to cross-reference and purge all fax and mail marketing lists, removing the contact information of those who are on the CMA DNC list.
Consent: A voluntary agreement for what is being done or proposed. There are different types of consent and a range of processes may be used to obtain consent. The two broad types of consent are:
Implied consent, which can be reasonably inferred from the circumstances of a given relationship, transaction or situation. Implied consent is often used in dealings with one’s current customers.
Express consent, which is definite and unmistakable and results from an action or message from a consumer (or from a business in the B2B context) which is given orally or in writing. Consent to use personal information may be considered express consent where an opt-out opportunity has been clearly and unmistakeably offered at the point where a consumer or business provides the information and/or confirms their agreement to a transaction. However, express opt-in consent must be obtained to use sensitive personal information, or in situations involving children or teenagers as outlined in the CMA code.
The form or process used to obtain consent should depend on the situation and the sensitivity of the personal information that is involved. The following are examples of the different forms of consent that may be used to obtain an individual’s agreement to collect, use or disclose their personal information:
Consent can be implied in circumstances where it is reasonably inferred from the initial agreement that an existing customer, subscriber, or donor will expect to receive a service renewal notice or solicitation for a further donation to the same cause.
- Consent can be obtained through the presentation of an explicit opportunity to a consumer or business to opt-out or refuse to grant permission, for example:
"We occasionally make our client list available to carefully screened companies whose products or services we feel would be of interest to our customers. If you would prefer not to receive such offers, please check here: "
- Consent can be obtained through the presentation of an explicit opportunity to a consumer or business to opt-inor indicate that they grant permission, for example:
"If you would like your child (under age 13) to receive copies of our monthly kids-club newsletters, please check here: "
Consumer marketing: Marketing products or services to individuals when they are purchasing for personal or household use.
Contact information: A subset of personal information, contact information refers solely to an individuals name, home address, e-mail address and/or telephone numbers. This subset of personal information is considered non-sensitive.
Current customer / Existing business relationship: An existing business/consumer relationship or current customer relationship exists where a consumer has made a purchase or donation, has rented, leased or contracted for, or has otherwise participated in a organizations provision of products or services within the past 18 months, or a period consistent with that organization’s normal buying cycle; and an existing business/consumer relationship is also defined as continuing for six months from the date of an inquiry or application from a consumer.
Internal do not contact list: A list of current customer, consumer or business contact information of those persons or businesses who have requested that they not be contacted by the marketer’s organization. It is used to cross-reference and purge that information from any list to be used for any marketing campaign by that organization. Often referred to as an "internal deletion list", this Code requires that internal do not contact lists must be maintained by every organization that markets for every channel by which they market.
Marketing: A set of business practices designed to plan for and present an organization’s products or services in ways that build effective customer relationships.
Personal information: Information about an identifiable individual. This does not include the name, title, or business address or telephone number of an employee of an organization.
Teenager: A person who has reached his or her 13th birthday but has not yet reached the age of majority in his or her province or territory of residence.
Third party: An organization or individual corporately distinct from that with which the customer originally did business (for example a list rental company), including an organization corporately related to the original marketer or part of the same group, where the relationship would not be apparent to the customer. Third parties do not include data processors operating on behalf of the organization with which the customer has an established business relationship.
Word-of-mouth marketing: Also sometimes referred to as "buzz" marketing, word-of-mouth marketing is capturing the attention of consumers and the media to generate favourable word of mouth about a brand, product, service or organization.