Law in Marketing and Advertising

One of the most important functions in business is marketing and advertising. Knowing who to market your product to, finding those people and reaching them with the right message which motivates them to purchase a product is a fundamental element of business for every enterprise from micro businesses to massive multinational corporations. Marketing and advertising involves building relationships with customers and messaging them with the right message. Sometimes though, when you are trying to promote your product or brand it can be difficult to know when a line has been crossed. There are a number of laws which regulate what can and cannot be said in marketing and advertising and it can be helpful to have advertising copy reviewed for compliance before it goes out to make sure that you are reducing the risk to the business that is advertising to its customers.

Particularly in Australia, there are number of things that simply cannot be present in marketing campaigns. A rapidly expanding area of law at the moment is the law of misleading and deceptive conduct which prevents businesses from engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct when advertising products. Section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law prescribes that in trade or commerce, a corporation shall not engage in conduct which is misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive. As an example, recently in the case of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Limited [2015] FCA 330 Coles supermarkets was ordered to pay an AUD$2.5 million fine because it had been advertising bread as being “Baked Today, Sold Today” and “Freshly Baked” when in fact it had been snap frozen offsite and then reheated at the supermarket. A seemingly innocuous attempt by the marketing and advertising department at Coles to make bread seem slightly more appealing to customers on the basis that it was fresh was found to be a violation of the law.

There are other considerations in the law of advertising as well. For instance, when making comparisons between products its necessary to make sure that the information about competing products is accurate in relation to price, quality, range or volume. Baiting customers with specific prices for goods that are not available or available in very small quantities is also illegal. False claims about country or origin or premium status of products or their moral, environmental or nutritional benefit is also forbidden by Australian Consumer law. Also, hiding behind fine print is something that will not be allowed by the courts if, for instance, a product is advertised as free when in fact there is a charge for it.

If you would like to take advantage of our advertising review services, we are more than happy to oblige. Please do not hesitate to contact us.