Laws are in place to protect consumers from false advertisements. False advertising is the use of misleading, false, or unproven information to advertise products to consumers.
All marketing and advertising must adhere to regulations set out in UK law, as well as advertising codes of practice. If information about customers or potential customers is stored, advertisers must also protect their personal data.
All advertising and marketing must:
- Have accurate descriptions of the product or service
- Socially responsible- not encouraging illegal, antisocial, or unsafe behaviour.
There are specific requirements for different sectors;
- Beauty products
- Environmentally friendly products
Regulations that affect advertising:
There are regulations in place to restrict what advertisers can and cannot do. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations means advertisers cannot harass or mislead consumers, by giving:
- False or deceptive messages
- Leaving out relevant information
- Using aggressive sales techniques
The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations covers advertising to businesses. It concludes that advertisers must remain accurate and honest, and must not make misleading comparison with competitors, including;
- Using a competitors logo or trademark, or something likewise
- Comparing products with a competitors product that is not the same
Codes of Practice
There are 2 advertising codes of practice, describing how businesses should advertise. Both cover all aspects of promotional communications, depending where the advert or promotion will appear.
Non-broadcast media: covers non broadcast advertising; print, online, sales promotion, direct marketing such as telesales and email. The code specifies standards to specific conditions, such as advertising to children, causing offence, and political advertising.
Broadcast media: broadcast media must follow rules from UK Code of Broadcast Advertising. There are strict guidelines regarding scheduling, as well as decency, taste, and product placement. These are called broadcast codes.
What happens if advertisers break regulations?
Rules are enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority. Often people will report to the ASA or a local trading standards office. If an advert breaks the rules, it may be withdrawn. If the advert doesn’t match the description or breaks the law penalties can include fines, revocation of licenses, prosecution or imprisonment.
Recent False Advertising Claims: