Marketing legislation and control place limits and restrictions on marketing means and these must not be infringed. Basic principles in legislation include the following:
If marketing does not meet the customer’s expectations, a product or service can be considered defective.
New Decree - comparison with existing case law
Minors are more susceptible to marketing means and advertising than adults. Consequently advertisers have a special responsibility when it comes to marketing aimed at minors. Children interpret advertising messages in a very concrete way and do not have an adult’s ability to understand humour, irony or other hidden messages in advertising.
Children can confuse fiction with fact and their ability to comprehend should be taken into consideration when advertising is designed. Advertising aimed at children should be concrete enough so that children can correctly understand the message. Advertising aimed at minors should be immediately identifiable as such, while advertising aimed at adults can take a more subtle approach.
Surreptitious advertising must not be used to influence minors, and this includes the Internet as well. Children should not be exposed to erotic or frightening advertising in public places, for example. Marketing should not place pressures on young people to fit a certain image. Nor should it encourage them to break the law or adopt racist or discriminatory attitudes.
Price is the most important information that a consumer needs in advertising. If the advertiser is a retailer and a specific product is shown in an ad or commercial, the price of the product must be indicated. If an advertiser is an importer, the price does not have to be indicated. The prices of products should also be displayed in shop windows. Businesses providing services should likewise display a list of prices in their windows. Unit prices per kilo, litre, metre etc must be indicated for foods and other consumer goods.
Discounts must be calculated on the basis of the price a shop has actually charged before the discount. Artificial prices may not be used. The discount price must be displayed on the product, on a sign beside the product or on a list near the product.
Consumers will be disappointed if special offer products are not actually available. In planning a campaign it is important to have enough products in proportion to the amount of advertising and the attractiveness of the product and price. Advertising must clearly indicate how long a special offer is valid and which shops in a chain do not carry the product.
If sales exceed estimates, customers should be offered a similar product or a chance to buy the same product later at the advertised price. Other consequences, such as compensation for travel expenses, depend on the degree to which a business has been negligent in planning a campaign.
Giveaways and promotional games appeal to many consumers, but gimmicks attached to products can irritate others. The main message in marketing should always be the actual product. Giveaways or prizes should not dominate advertising.
The value of giveaways and combined offers must be indicated, according to the law. If the value of a giveaway is less than 10 euros, it does not have to be indicated. Giveaways cannot be described using expressions such as “free” or “gift”, since receiving them requires the purchase of a product.
As a rule consumers should not have to buy a product in order to participate in a promotional game or contest. This should be a real option and can be arranged by providing game coupons in shops, for example. These can be traditional “I don’t want to buy but just want to participate in the contest” coupons that have to be mailed in. Another option is a text message that is not subject to an additional charge. Participating on the Internet should not be the only option that does not require buying the product.
The Consumer Ombudsman monitors marketing and advertising. This takes place after advertising has been published or broadcast. Depending on the situation the Consumer Ombudsman can remind a business of marketing rules or conduct negotiations to stop a campaign that is not in compliance with the law. The Consumer Ombudsman can also impose a ban or petition the Market Court for a ruling. A ban is usually backed by a conditional fine.
Planning a discount campaign?