Advertisements and marketing

Multipage Guide

Who is this page for?

  • Any organisation providing a service

Which countries is it relevant to?

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An advertisement includes every form of advertisement or notice or marketing material, whether aimed at members of the public or a specialised audience, including:

  • in a newspaper or other publication
  • by television or radio
  • by display of notices
  • signs
  • labels
  • show-cards or goods
  • by distribution of samples
  • circulars
  • catalogues
  • price lists or other material
  • by exhibition of pictures
  • three-dimensional models or filmed material.

Most written and other material published by a service provider is likely to count as an advertisement if its aim is to tell customers or service users about a service.

A service provider is allowed to target advertising material at a particular group of people, including a group who share a particular protected characteristic.

For example:

  • A mortgage company advertises a product as particularly suitable for women by advertising that borrowers can take payment holidays if they take maternity leave.
  • A bar advertises in a newspaper mostly bought by lesbian or gay women and gay men.
  • A barber has flyers printed only advertising haircuts and listing prices for men.
  • A community organisation makes it clear on its website that the lunch club it runs is aimed at older people from a particular ethnic background.
  • A sporting club advertises that particular sessions are targeted at introducing disabled people to its sport.

But, unless services are covered by one of the exceptions to equality law, an advertisement must not tell you that, because of a particular protected characteristic, you cannot use the service or would not be welcome to use the service, or would receive worse terms in using the service.

For example:

If a business advertises in a newspaper, it does not have to put out an equivalent advertisement on the radio just because disabled people with a visual impairment may not have been able to read the written advertisement.

Equality good practice: what to look for

Even though organisations do not have to make reasonable adjustments when they are advertising their services, they can do this if they want to, for example, by advertising in ways that will be accessible to disabled people with a range of impairments, such as providing Easy Read information for people with a learning disability.

Last updated: 11 Jun 2021

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

Also available through the website are BSL interpretation, web chat services and a contact us form.


Opening hours:

9am to 7pm Monday to Friday
10am to 2pm Saturday
closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.