Advertising law: we promote our business without fines from the FAS

Advertising Law: promote your business without fines from the FAS

The Advertising Law regulates a huge number of norms and requirements that all advertising that appears in the media space today must comply with. For violation of the provisions contained in it, fines are imposed, and quite significant ones. Thus, over the past year, the FAS (Federal Antimonopoly Service) initiated over 4,000 cases related to violations of this law. At the same time, a fine totaling about 150 million rubles was imposed on the business. Unfortunately, not everyone who works in advertising today is thoroughly familiar with the nuances of this law. But ignorance, alas, does not relieve one from responsibility.

Now we will try to eliminate the gaps that exist in this direction, we will tell you how to conduct advertising activities in the future, without fear of running into a fine and other restrictions. The recommendations given will be useful both directly to business representatives and to agencies that work in the field advertising, as well as remote freelancers. Let's tell you what is considered advertising and what is not. Here are a number of violations for which you can get a fine. Let's get acquainted with the most common problems. The information presented will help you build your advertising campaign as correctly as possible and avoid all kinds of sanctions, fines and other restrictions.

Advertising or not: how to understand

Not all advertisements that at first glance can be called advertising are as such in accordance with the standards prescribed in Article 35.1 of the Federal Law on Advertising. So, under the concept of “advertising” includes all ads that:

  • addressed to an indefinite circle of people, that is, designed to interest the maximum number of audiences;
  • distributed in different ways and in absolutely any form using various technologies: it could be a video on television, a note in a magazine, a street banner, a post on social networks, etc.;
  • aimed at attracting maximum audience attention to the advertising object, starting from the formation of interest and up to its subsequent support to ensure strong demand.

At first glance, it may seem that everything is simple here, but if you start to delve into the details, you can see that the same information, but in a different context, can be counted by law as advertising, or maybe not. For example, the same street banner. It appears to be a direct advertisement. But what if it is located directly at the entrance to the store that sells the advertised goods? No, this will no longer be direct advertising. To see everything that relates to such exceptions, you need to study Article 2 of the Federal Law on Advertising. Here are the most common solutions that do not relate to advertising as such.

  • description of the product, price, official warranty period and other information that the seller must inform his buyer;
  • posts and materials containing background and analytical information, including the results of scientific research that do not contain direct commercial parameters;
  • data about the product itself and its manufacturer, as well as other information that is provided on the packaging, including logo, trademark;
  • signs and signs that do not contain direct advertising content;
  • the most natural and organic introduction of references to a product or service in scientific, literary articles, elements of art.

That is, our banner, placed at the entrance to the trading floor, can be legally defined as a sign with a name and the absence of obvious advertising elements. This means that all the restrictions that apply in the field of advertising today will not apply to it. But here it is very important to understand what information is provided on the same banner. If it contains a call for purchase, if it focuses on some unique properties, competitive advantages of a certain product, then the law will already classify it as advertising. Also included in this category are all those banners that are placed on the main pages of online stores and other sites containing a call to purchase a specific product.

If you delve into these nuances, you can learn how to effectively circumvent these restrictions by showing your products to your audience without the risk of running into a fine from the Federal Antimonopoly Service.

What can you get a fine from the FAS for?

But, regardless of what particular product or service you are advertising, the information that will be contained in your materials must be reliable and of high quality. If you analyze the law, you can identify categories of violations for which you can get a fine:

  1. Violations of advertising requirements. For legal entities, the fine can range from 100 to 500 thousand rubles, and for officials — from 4 to 20 thousand rubles.
  2. Advertising of cigarettes and other tobacco products. The fine for legal entities is in the range of 150-600 thousand rubles, and for officials — 10-25 thousand rubles
  3. Failure to comply with a previously issued order of the Federal Antimonopoly Service related to violations of advertising requirements. The fine here increases to 300-500 thousand rubles. for legal entities and 10-25 thousand rubles. for officials.

As practice shows, the main difficulty for those who launch advertising is associated with incorrect interpretation of the wording given in the law. To minimize this, article-by-article comments were developed to clarify many points. There is also a built-in database of decisions of the Federal Antimonopoly Service, which contains practical situations that have previously raised a number of questions among business representatives. It would also be useful to get acquainted with such a section as advertising control, available on the official website of the FAS and the educational project “Advertising Literacy”. These are the basics, after studying which you will gain enough knowledge to launch the most effective advertising. One that will not cause fines.

What is prohibited from advertising?

If we analyze the fines that are currently imposed by the Federal Antimonopoly Service, the vast majority of them were received for the following violations:

  1. False advertising. This refers to the situation when an advertiser puts his competitors in an unfavorable light, indicating deliberately false information about his goods or services, artificially inflating their advantages, thereby distinguishing them from similar products.
  2. Distorted facts. Along with false information about the benefits of a product or service, advertising may contain false data about prices, properties, application features, etc. That is, this can include everything that can mislead the audience.
  3. Advertising with information that can be classified as pornographic. Advertising should not contain bare private parts. That is, everything that can be called obscene should be excluded from advertising, otherwise you risk running into a fine.
  4. Ads, videos, publications with calls for violence, the commission of certain crimes, promoting cruelty towards both people and animals.

A complete list of which goods and services are prohibited from advertising is set out in Article 7 of the Federal Law on Advertising. This also includes narcotic and tobacco products, explosive components. There are also a number of restrictions on advertising dietary supplements, alcoholic beverages, weapons, and medicines. Their full list can be found in Chapter 3 of the Federal Law on Advertising. If you open Chapter 2 of this law, you will be able to see what nuances exist when launching advertising campaigns in various sources, be it Internet, print media, television.

Top 10 violations for which the most fines are imposed

Now we present 10 key requirements that are prescribed in the Advertising Law, but which, according to statistics from the Federal Antimonopoly Service, are violated most often:

  1. Inaccurate information about the conditions of the promotion. Such a violation is described in Part 3 of Article 5 and in Article 9 of the Federal Law on Advertising. This violation is most relevant for various sweepstakes, competitions and promotions that companies launch to stimulate consumer interest. And the key violation here — indication of incorrect dates for conducting such companies, the presence of certain errors in their conditions. One of the Krasnodar companies fell under this violation, which, when launching its advertising campaign, did not indicate how many prizes were provided and in what time frame the winners would receive their reward. It seems like a trifle, but the violation was recorded and put into legal proceedings.
  2. Inconsistency with the reality of information about the goods or services provided. In this case, we may be talking about indicating an incorrect price, errors in the terms of payment or delivery of the order, assortment, etc. This violation is regulated by Part 3 of Article 5 of the Federal Law on Advertising. A striking example of such a violation was an advertisement from the Yandex browser, in particular dedicated to a subscription to the Yandex Plus package. The ad itself told customers that they would be able to purchase it with a 44% discount. But there were clients to whom the service refused to provide such a discount when paying for a subscription. Managers who oversaw this process reported that users received this special offer due to a technical error. As a result, there were those who complained to the Federal Antimonopoly Service, which became the reason for initiating a case for violation of the Federal Law on Advertising. The Volgograd representative office of TELE2 was also affected by this violation. The advertisement stated that unused Internet gigabytes and call minutes would be carried over to the next month as long as the customer remained on the selected tariff. But in practice it turned out that such a transfer was carried out only for one month. And everything that was not mastered at the end burned down.
  3. The presence in advertising of comparisons with competitors' products, where the products of your business win without clear evidence of advantages. Such a violation is classified according to Part 2 of Article 5 of the Federal Law on Advertising as unfair advertising. One of the Ulyanovsk developers fell under such a violation. Having launched an advertisement for the apartment building he was building, he positioned it as “The Best House.” At the same time, the advertising banner depicted two multi-storey buildings, as well as contact numbers for communication. The Federal Antimonopoly Service came to the conclusion that there were violations in this advertisement, since nowhere on the banner was it indicated why one house is objectively better than another. That is, it was noted that there is a clear misrepresentation here. It is impossible to say who initiated such proceedings, since this information is hidden. But it is also clear that the developer did not have an explicit goal to show the negative aspects of the work of his competitors, because he displayed a fictitious object on his banner and did not indicate its affiliation with one or another developer. The banal thoughtlessness of the advertising slogan simply played here. One of the companies that specializes in cargo transportation also fell under a similar violation, indicating in their advertising that they offer cargo transportation at the lowest prices. But there was no evidence that the cost of their services was really the lowest. Here you have a fine literally out of nowhere.
  4. Use of official state symbols or the presence of any approval from the authorities without appropriate grounds. Clause 2, 5 of Part 5 of Article of the Federal Law on Advertising notes that the presence of state symbols on any advertisement can mislead the user audience. Surely many of you have seen the “Best Kvass in Russia” advertisement on television or on external banners. It contained information that this brand had won prizes at specialized exhibitions and had a diploma from the Ministry of Agriculture. But, as it turned out, in order to obtain this diploma, it is necessary to obtain product approval by the relevant government authorities. And this, in turn, is the exploitation of the authority of the authorities in advertising products, which is prohibited at the legislative level. And it doesn’t matter that the company actually has this diploma, which was obtained quite legally.
  5. Writing important additional conditions in unreadable, small font. The presence of such information is often counted by the Federal Antimonopoly Service as its complete absence in accordance with Part 7 of Article 5 of the Advertising Law. Rosbank encountered a similar violation, claiming in its advertising that they have no monthly payments on loan obligations. But at the same time, the opposite information was written in small print. As a result, it turned out that a large number of customers were misled. This means that such a decision by the bank’s marketers could lead to late payments and sanctions from the bank for clients who are late in monthly payments. Other financial institutions that provided this or that information in an inconvenient format were also subject to similar restrictions.
  6. Advertising on diaries, school textbooks and other printed materials related to educational literature. Such a violation is specified in Part 10, Article 5 of the Federal Law on Advertising. A similar trial was carried out against one of the publishing houses that published school diaries in the series “I &mdash.” Murmansk resident" with an advertisement for a local Joint Stock Insurance Company.
  7. Advertising of certain medical services without the appropriate licenses. In this case, paragraph 7 of Article 7 of the Federal Law on Advertising is violated. An example of such a violation is one of the beauty studios that advertises a cosmetic procedure on social networks. However, their advertisements did not contain information about the presence of a state License to conduct medical activities. Also, no information was provided about the accreditation of specialists who will perform this cosmetic procedure; there was no corresponding certificate.
  8. The use of speakers attached to certain construction sites to convey advertising information. According to Part 3.2 of Article 19 of the Federal Law on Advertising, it is prohibited to place any audio equipment intended for advertising on the external structural elements of buildings and structures. Sound advertising for an exhibition at which hats and outerwear were on sale was subject to a similar restriction. The advertiser placed his speakers at the entrance to the city's central park, for which he received a fairly significant fine.
  9. The presence in advertising of words and expressions of foreign origin that distort the main meaning. Such a violation is regulated by clause 1, part 5, article 5 of the Federal Law on Advertising. In this case, we are talking about the fact that many advertisers add English-language phrases to their videos in order to enhance emotional perception and stand out from the general background. But the Federal Antimonopoly Service takes this as a violation, since not all people can translate foreign phrases and, accordingly, correctly understand their essence. This means that information can be distorted and misunderstood. One of the Nizhny Novgorod fitness clubs fell under a similar violation, the banner of which contained an abbreviation for the phrase “come on catch success.” (C.O.C.S). Literally translated, it sounds like “come on, try your luck.” But people who are not particularly familiar with the English language took this abbreviation as the name of a narcotic substance. And you can find quite a lot of such examples in practice.
  10. Providing incomplete information. Similar restrictions apply to companies providing certain financial services: Part 1 of Article 28 of the Federal Law on Advertising. In practice, the most common violations are those that indicate that clients can take out an interest-free loan, but the full name of the financial institution that provides such services is not indicated. An example of such a violation is an advertising banner that was placed on the facade of one of the stores in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, informing that customers can take out an interest-free loan for repairs for a period of six months, but the full terms of the loan, down to the legal name of the bank or financial institution, are given there wasn't.

We would also like to draw your attention to the fact that about six months ago, fines for incorrectly labeling advertisements on the Internet came into effect. Now those business representatives who launched a different advertising campaign, but did not provide information about it in the appropriate register, will be subject to penalties. You can read in detail about how to correctly mark advertising today here.

To summarize

Advertising — This is a fairly large-scale category of products and solutions, the action of which is aimed at increasing brand awareness, improving its perception by the target audience, and introducing new brands, goods, and services. But in practice, everything turns out to be not as simple as it might seem at first glance. The presence of a huge number of restrictions, prohibitions, and pitfalls can lead to you running into a fine literally out of nowhere. As can be seen from the above examples, most of the violations were committed due to simple inattention or oversight.

To prevent this from happening, so that the advertising product you create fully complies with the current Federal Law on Advertising, you must:

  1. Take into account the content of the information. Literally the same idea, introduced in different ways, can be counted by the system as advertising or as non-advertising. Accordingly, no sanctions will be applied to the second two. If you don’t want to run into fines and other sanctions, submit your information as non-advertising.
  2. Never speak inappropriately, disrespectfully or defiantly towards the goods or services supplied to the market by your competitors. Be mutually polite.
  3. When developing an advertising strategy, use only reliable and verified facts. There should be no speculation, ambiguity, dubious statements, or anything that can be interpreted in different ways.
  4. Exclude insults, unethical statements, do not incite cruelty, crime, or violence. Remove the context containing obscene images, pornographic subtext.
  5. Do not use foreign words or phrases without an exact translation when composing advertising slogans or on the banner itself. This is something that can cause ambiguity.
  6. Study in detail all the nuances of advertising for such product categories as alcohol, dietary supplements, tobacco products, medicines, weapons and other specific products.

It is also imperative to comply with those that currently apply in the field of television, print and online advertising. That is, you must initially create your video, post or banner according to the requirements of the platform on which it will be placed in the future.

Additional recommendations

As you can see, the launch of advertising — This is a rather complex and time-consuming solution that requires compliance with many nuances. And in order to implement everything at a high professional level, it is necessary to take into account a large amount of information, and not only that specified in the Federal Law on Advertising. Every marketer probably knows how hard work is required to collect information about the target audience, semantics, and also when performing other work aimed at developing the most effective advertising strategy. It is also very important to properly monitor the progress of your campaign and eliminate errors and oversights in a timely manner.

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