Often clients will ask what the networks’ requirements are for supers. 

The networks’ production guidelines for supers are as follows:

Visual disclaimers:

1.  Must be clearly legible against a contrasting background and appropriately drop-shaded.
2.  Must be at least 22 scan lines, with letters, words, and lines spaced so as to be easily read.
3.  Must be three seconds for the first line plus one second for each additional line.

The use of supers or visual disclaimers in commercials is very common.  Often they provide the viewing audience with important information.  Supers can vary from "Use as directed" in commercials for over-the-counter medications to "Professional driver on a closed course.  Do not attempt" in car commercials.  Certain categories, such as commercials for contests and sweepstakes, also have specific requirements regarding supers. 

Supers are often used to qualify claims that are being made in the commercial.  In some cases, the inclusion of a super can make the difference between a commercial that is not approved and one that is approved.  

This is why it is so important that supers be readable.  Clients should make every effort to be sure the supers that appear in commercials are easy to read.  Production techniques, such as the use of white lettering on a light background, should be avoided. 

There are times when clients send me commercials with supers that are difficult to read, and ask me if I think the editors at the networks will be able to read them.  In these instances I usually encourage clients to use their own judgment by asking the question, "Can you read the supers?"  If the client is unable to read the supers, chances are the editors will be unable to read them; and if the editors are unable to read them, they will not approve the commercial.  So, if you are concerned that the editors will have a difficult time reading the supers, chances are they will.

It’s important to remind clients, when clearing commercials with the networks, to make sure that all supers comply with the networks’ production guidelines. 

Marilyn Colaninno is Director of Rights and Clearances for Reed Smith and is responsible for clearing commercials for the firm’s many clients in the advertising industry. If you have specific questions relating to network clearance, feel free to contact Marilyn directly at +1 212 549 0347 or by e-mail at mcolaninno@reedsmith.com.