IP, Technology & Data

This blog post was published earlier today as an e-update to our email subscribers. To receive e-updates from Brodies’ Technology, Information and Outsourcing Group please register your details or contact your usual TIO Group contact.

On 1 March the remit of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was extended to include the claims companies make on non-paid for space online. This covers adverts for a company’s goods and services on its own website and on any social media sites within its control.

Since the ASA’s digital marketing remit was extended earlier this year the independent UK regulator has received a 40% increase in complaints.

The rules and criteria that are applicable to digital and online marketing are the same as those applicable to ‘traditional’ media, such as the obligation that the advert is not misleading, exaggerated or offensive. However, there are some particular things to look out for when advertising online, including via social media channels.

Here’s a quick list of do’s and don’ts to ensure that your company doesn’t have to explain itself to the ASA:

  • Don’t exaggerate savings by comparing an offer to the most expensive alternative.
  • Don’t say something is free if it isn’t. If the product is free, but postage is not, then say that upfront.
  • Don’t include unnecessary price breakdowns for a product or service unless the costs being detailed are optional. If they are not optional then it is pointless explaining what they are.
  • Don’t pick and choose customer reviews to appear on your website to make your company look good.
  • Do include any surcharges, such as booking fees, upfront.
  • Do make sure a discount is actually a discount. If the prices are the same before, during and after the promotion then it’s not really a promotion and is in breach of regulations.
  • Do ensure that you have robust evidence of quality and performance if you are going to make claims about your product.
  • Do state clearly that an offer may be extended at the company’s discretion if you think you may want to exercise this option.

For further information please contact me or get in touch with your usual Brodies contact.

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Martin Sloan

Partner at Brodies LLP
Martin is a partner in Brodies Technology, Information and Outsourcing group and has wide experience of advising clients on technology procurement and IT and business process outsourcing projects. Martin also advises on data protection (including the GDPR), and general technology and intellectual property law, and has a particular interest in the laws applying to social media and new technology such as mobile apps, contactless/mobile payments, and smart metering.
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