Marketing & advertising

ICC Advertising and Marketing Communications Code

  • 25 September 2018

ICC Advertising and Marketing Communications Code

ICC’s Consolidated Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice—or the ICC Marketing Code—is a globally-applicable self-regulatory framework, developed by experts from all industry sectors worldwide.

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John Denton
John W.H. Denton AOSecretary General, International Chamber of Commerce

Present in 42 countries around the world, the ICC Marketing Code demonstrates ICC’s role as a global rule-maker and standard-setter.

Lucas BoudetDirector General, European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA)

The principles laid out in the ICC Marketing Code are the cornerstone of the national codes of practice enforced by EASA’s network, ensuring responsible advertising in Europe.

Carla MichelottiInternational Advertising Association

The ICC Marketing Code provides a 'backbone' encouraging integrity and honesty, helping the industry to stand proud. As a longtime supporter, the IAA applauds 80 years of ICC Marketing Code successes.

José Domingo Gómez CastalloPresident of ICAS

The ICC Marketing Code can be described as the gold standard for advertising self-regulation. It is used by ICAS members worldwide to develop locally relevant standards.

Stephan LoerkeChief Executive Officer, World Federation of Advertisers

The global standards enshrined in the ICC Marketing Code are a cornerstone of ongoing work to extend the coverage of effective self-regulatory systems.

Linda J NagelFormer President & CEO, Advertising Standards Canada

The ICC Marketing Code lays the foundation for the development of responsible and effective advertising self-regulatory systems around the world, making it a primary resource for the advertising industry.

Udeme UfotGroup Managing Director, SO&U (Nigeria)

In emerging markets, relationships between advertising or marketing practitioners and regulators can be complex. The ICC Marketing Code provides an excellent global reference point for the benefit of all.

Axel Tandberg, FEDMA Board member, Chair of FEDMA Legal Affairs Committee and CEO and Founder, Tandberg & Partners AB

The ICC Marketing Code is a key component of a necessary ethical framework in which advertisers and their technology can operate – a framework that FEDMA supports with its own Code of Conduct.

Greg Mroczkowski, Public Policy Manager, IAB Europe

Applying the ICC Marketing Code’s high standards of ethics is paramount to ensuring that online advertising continues to bring value to European consumers, the industry, and the overall economy.

Brent SandersAssociate General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation Chair of the ICC Commission on Marketing and Advertising

The ICC Marketing Code has inspired self-regulatory structures around the world. Ensuring advertising is honest and decent, these systems build consumer trust and provide quick redress when transgressions occur.

Elisabeth Trotzig, Advertising Ombudsman, Reklamombudsmannen

Highlighting social responsibility and transparency, the code is a useful tool for advertisers to maintain high ethical standards which enable consumers to trust marketing in all kinds of media worldwide.

What’s new in the ICC Marketing Code?

This 10th revision ensures that the ICC Marketing Code is maintained as the global reference point for marketing self-regulation, fit for the digital world.

Key changes to the ICC Marketing Code include:

Enhanced guidance 
on distinguishing marketing communications content from true editorial and user generated content

Clarified rules 
on advertising to children and teens including new, sharp definitions

Consolidated rules 
on direct marketing and digital marketing communications

Updated terminology and guidance
on the applicability of mobile phones and cross-devices to location-based advertising and interest-based advertising

Expanded coverage
of the rules to include emerging mediums and participants, such as social media, artificial intelligence-enabled marketing, market influencers, bloggers, vloggers, affiliate networks, data analytics and ad tech companies

What is the ICC Marketing Code?

ICC’s Advertising and Marketing Communications Code – or the ICC Marketing Code – is a globally-applicable self-regulatory framework, developed by experts from all industry sectors worldwide. Since 1937, it has served as the cornerstone for most self-regulatory systems around the world, from the French ARPP Code to China’s Responsible Marketing Code. The Code is the backbone of the global advertising and marketing industry.

The ICC Marketing Code seeks to protect consumers by clearly setting out the ‘dos and don’ts’ for responsible marketing to ensure legal, honest, decent and truthful communications and practices. The Marketing Code sets high standards for a full range of marketing activities, including digital marketing communications with measures to protect children and consumer privacy.

A range of actors rely on the ICC Marketing Code


Building consumer trust by maintaining high ethical standards


Providing a solid, cost-effective and flexible starting point for safeguarding consumers

Academic community

Granting students a firm foundation in ethical decision-making in today’s marketing and advertising environment

Putting it into practice

ICC’s Marketing Code provides a solid, cost-effective and flexible starting point for considering ethical marketing standards that can be adapted to local needs.

To help marketers, advertisers, regulators or any other actors better understand the ICC Marketing Code, the ICC Academy offers a free online course on ethical marketing.

Icc Academy Ethical Marketing Advertising Programme

An updated implementation guide is also enclosed in an annex of the ICC Marketing Code to help various stakeholders in the marketing and advertising ecosystem put the framework into practice.

ICC Marketing Code: Key principles

The ICC Marketing Code covers all forms of advertising and marketing communications, including digital advertising and social media. It is technology and media neutral. It applies to the entire marketing eco-system, guiding communications practitioners, advertising agencies, publishers, media owners, contractors and other participants including market influencers, bloggers, vloggers, affiliate networks, data analytics and ad tech companies as well as those responsible for preparing algorithms and the use of artificial intelligence for marketing communications purposes.
All marketing communication should be legal, decent, honest and truthful.
Marketing communications should not offend standards of decency currently prevailing in the country and culture concerned. They should not abuse consumers’ trust or exploit their lack of experience or knowledge.
Marketing communications should respect human dignity and not incite or condone any form of discrimination or anti-social behaviour.
Marketing communications should not mislead the consumer with respect to the product. All forms of claims relating to verifiable facts should be capable of substantiation at the time of publication.
Marketing communications should be clearly distinguishable and when appearing in a medium containing news or editorial matter, where appropriate, labelled as such. They should not misrepresent their true commercial purpose.
The identity of the marketer should be apparent.
Marketing communications should not denigrate or ridicule competitors or their products, other firms, organisations or persons. Marketing communications should not make unjustifiable use of the name, logo or trademark of another firm or institution, and should not take undue advantage of the goodwill belonging to others.
Special care should be taken in marketing communications directed to or featuring children or teens. They should not undermine positive social behaviour, lifestyle and attitudes.
When collecting personal data from individuals, care should be taken to respect and protect their privacy by complying with relevant rules and regulations.
Whatever the nature of the activity, medium or technology, responsibility is shared by all parties concerned, commensurate with their respective role in the process and within the limits of their respective functions.

The ICC Marketing Code around the world

The ICC Marketing Code functions within the framework of local, national or regional legislation, supplementing regulation in a complementary manner. The below map shows where self-regulation frameworks are either based on the ICC Marketing Code, national codes or remain non-existent.

  • 42 countries have or are developing national codes based on the ICC Marketing Code
  • 52 countries have advertising self-regulations
Icc Code Around World

ICC statement on the use of AI in advertising and marketing communications 

With this statement concerning the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in advertising and marketing communications, ICC calls on all marketers and related constituents of the advertising ecosystem who design, create, deliver, or control marketing communications through the use of AI, algorithms, and other automated technologies to observe the ICC Advertising and Marketing Communications Code and continue to produce responsible marketing communications regardless of the means used. 

Frequently asked questions

Advertising self-regulation, embraced globally, ensures responsible and compliant advertising practices through robust systems of control and governance within the industry, featuring codes of conduct, guidance, and enforcement mechanisms. Endorsed by the ICC, advertising self-regulation is recognised by policymakers and international organisations as well as judiciary systems in some instances.

Discover the numerous benefits that come with advertising self-regulation.

Are you an expert interested in joining our working group? Contact Georgiana Degeratu or Jessica Reed to see how you can get involved.

Want more information on the ICC Marketing Code or self-regulation systems in a specific country? Send us an email and we’ll be in touch!

The ICC Code currently undergoes enhancements to improve usability and adaptability to evolving marketing landscapes, particularly in technology-driven domains. The 11th revision will be completed in June 2024. 

Key highlights of the upcoming changes include: 

  • Greater clarity in the scope and application to different forms of marketing communications  
  • The inclusion of coverage for the use of algorithms and AI in preparing and delivering marketing communications 
  • Improved indications regarding claims (including aspirational claims) and substantiation 
  • Addressing influencer marketing and the associated responsibilities of influencers and content creators 
  • Updated provisions concerning environmental advertising and environmental aspects of sustainability 
  • Clearer rules in a separate chapter regarding children, teens and minors