Advertising and Marketing Law

All businesses need to have strong marketing strategies in place for success, but they must be careful to ensure that their advertising is fair and honest. Any claims made about what the company offers are required to be lawful, truthful, and not misleading.

The rules and regulations regarding marketing apply to many aspects of a business, including:

  • Product labeling
  • Email and mail campaigns
  • Telemarketing
  • Product results claims
  • Environmental and health claims

The laws of advertising and marketing encompass major topics like fair trade and honesty in advertising. Businesses are not allowed to say whatever they want to get consumers to buy their products. Certain claims must be proven in order to use them for marketing.

For instance, a health drink cannot claim that it will cause customers to lose five pounds in two days unless the company has sufficient research and proof to back up that claim.

Companies cannot prey on the sensitivities of consumers simply to get more people to buy their products. A bag cannot be advertised as being made of completely recycled materials unless it actually is.

Trademarks are also protected under advertising and marketing law. Companies are prohibited from infringing on one another's trademarks in any way. In order to avoid accidental trademark infringement, businesses can perform a search online to be sure that any names, slogans, or logos they hope to use in marketing are not protected.

Federal Trade Commission

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) governs any marketing or advertising that takes place in the United States through their enforced regulations. Trade practices from state to state are also regulated by the FTC.

In an effort to keep companies honest about their products and controlled in their advertising methods, the Federal Trade Commission regulates how products are branded and what their labels claim, and it has rules regarding how customers may be reached. The use of mail flyers, email announcements, phone calls, and door to door sales are all governed by the FTC. Any labels that suggest certain health benefits, environmental features, and more are controlled and must be warranted in order for the FTC to allow their use.

Consumers want to be able to trust what they read on labels or hear in commercials, so the FTC is working to keep companies trustworthy. The regulations put on the advertising and marketing world affect company operations in many ways.

The slogan of the Federal Trade Commission is "protecting America's consumers." By putting requirements on companies to label and advertise their services or products truthfully, the FTC attempts to live up to their slogan. When a company makes a specific claim about their product, the FTC requires that it be "evidence based." If a vitamin business wants to print that their Vitamin C supplements are 99 percent effective in preventing colds, they have to show proof of that claim.

The Division of Advertising Practices

Within the FTC, the Division of Advertising Practices works to keep consumers informed and protected when it comes to marketing and advertising practices that are intentionally deceptive or unfair. They pay close attention to any false advertising that could cause health or safety issues and those that could hurt the economy. In the case that dishonest advertising is found, this division of the FTC will bring legal action against the guilty party.

This division of the FTC gets law enforcement involved, when necessary, to help catch and prevent fraud in advertising. There are international and federal law agencies that keep an eye on the safety and health products out there. The Division of Advertising Practices works together with such agencies to ensure that any health or safety claims are legitimate.

Such rules, regulations, and enforcement is very important, especially when it comes to child safety. The FTC helps keep certain industries from targeting children, like the tobacco and alcohol industry.

Why Advertising Laws and Regulations Are Good to Know

It is a very good idea to have a good understanding of the current advertising laws and regulations in your area when developing a marketing strategy for a business. Meeting with an experienced lawyer can help avoid any legal issues in the future.

Advertising campaigns can be very costly and time consuming. Understanding the appropriate advertising laws and regulations can help make sure a company gets a great start when first putting their name out there.

If you need help with advertising laws and regulations, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.