Is your business planning to pay for an advertising campaign? Are you wondering if there are any legal requirements? Well, you have come to the right place. Advertising is an important way to promote your business and bring in new clients. But, if you do it wrong, your ads could land you in a bit of trouble. This article will look at the importance of having advertising clearance.
Learn from the mistakes of others
To understand how important it is to get your advertising right, here’s a real-life example. In 2014, an alcohol company sold a product called “AUSSIE BEER”. The packaging was green and gold and contained a statement that the beer was “made from Australia’s finest malt”. There was also an icon in the shape of Australia, with the words “100% owned” in the middle.
All of this suggested that the beer was made in Australia, when the beer was in fact made in China. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued the company with a penalty of $10,200.
What can’t you do?
Most of us would probably realise that it is not a good idea to advertise a Chinese product as “Aussie Beer”. But a lot of the time it is not so clear. So it’s good to know the rules.
For most businesses, the main advertising rules are set out in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The ACL is a national code that contains important protections for consumers and obligations for businesses.
The basic rule for advertising is that your promotional materials should not be misleading or deceptive. The best test here is often common sense, but it’s good to keep some basic principles in mind:
- Back it up! You should be able to support the claims and representations in your advertising materials. If your ad says you sell a full range of products from a particular brand, you should make sure you stock all of the products. If your ad says your services are available on weekends, you shouldn’t close on Sundays to watch the footy. However, you won’t be expected to substantiate claims that are obviously exaggerations or “puff”. Most consumers are smart enough to know that your burgers aren’t necessarily “the best in town”.
- Be clear! It is always best to be as clear as possible in your advertising materials. Consumers are more likely to be misled if something is ambiguous and could be understood in different ways. Being clear also means being careful in choosing where to put certain words and pictures in your ad and deciding the parts to emphasise. For instance, if you have important disclaimers in your advertising materials, you should make sure they are prominent enough that a consumer is likely to notice and read them.
- Not sure? Change it! Use your instincts. If something about your ad doesn’t feel right, that is a good sign that you might need to change it.
What should you do next?
So, if your business is planning to start an advertising campaign or distribute other promotional materials, what should you do? To start with, you should check out our other articles on specific issues in advertising and consumer law.
The ACCC has also published an advertising and selling guide, which is a useful resource to help businesses understand their obligations under the ACL.
Have you read those resources and are still unsure? The best way to make sure your advertising will bring in clients – and not fines – is to ask a lawyer to review your advertising materials before you distribute them to the public. At LegalVision, we can help you with your advertising clearance, so give us a call on 1300 544 755.
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