The Advertising Standards Authority‘s system of self-regulation compares favourably with that of similar bodies in many other countries. Its advertising code regulates, amongst others, offensive advertising. This study investigates whether the limitations imposed by the South African advertising code accord with the provisions of the South African Constitution. In order to examine this critically, an interpretative, comparative review of the literature on this topic was conducted. Offensive advertising is a form of freedom of expression that is protected in South Africa. It is accepted as such in constitutional jurisprudence, both in South Africa and internationally. The advertising code may therefore only limit advertising freedom insofar as the limitations of s 36 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 permit it. In terms of s 36, the South Africa advertising code needs to constitute a ‘law of general application’. As a contract between advertisers and the Advertising Standards Authority, and also based on the advertising code’s legal underpinning in broadcast advertising, the code is ‘law’. Moreover, as a published document based on international advertising principles, the code is furthermore also accessible; and it has general application. However, the vague terminology employed in the offensive advertising clause means that the clause constitutes an unenforceable contract term. It is not sufficiently clear and precise to qualify as ‘law of general application’, with the exception of the provisions on gender offence, the offensive advertising provisions are not formulated with sufficient precision so as to enable advertisers to reasonably ascertain prior to publication whether an advertisement is likely to be acceptable. The Constitutional Court in Islamic Unity Convention v Independent Broadcasting Authority NO 2002 (4) SA 294; 2002 (5) BCLR 433 para 30 highlighted the categories of offensive material that can be expected to be regulated in a democratic society, if fairness and a diversity of views representative of South African society is to be achieved, namely material that is (1) indecent, obscene or offensive to public morals; (2) offensive to religious convictions; or (3) offensive to feelings of sections of the population . The study concludes that in respect of sex, nudity, violence, and language, advertising material should be limited to appropriate media placement in that the South African advertising code should aim to protect children and unwilling adult recipients from offence occasioned by encountering such material, rather than preventing moral deterioration. The study also concludes that when dealing with religious convictions, race, sexual orientation, ethnic or social origin, age, disability, and culture, the prohibitions on advertising should mirror the provisions of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (Act 4 of 2000), dealing with hate speech: If a category of offence is to be banned, such offence cannot be merely shocking but must result in hate speech. The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act is a direct result of the requirement in the Constitution, 1996 that national legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination. Finally, the study proposes amended provisions relating to offensive advertising for the South African advertising code: Firstly, it is proposes that an advertiser‘s freedom of expression should be curtailed in a manner that ensures fairness and a diversity of views broadly representing a democratic South African society. Secondly, the proposal aims to ensure that offensive advertising provisions accord with the value system of the Constitution, 1996, when collectively weighing up the requirements and factors provided for in s 36 of the Constitution, 1996, together with all other relevant factors.