Many local clients try all kinds of weird and wonderful advertising stunts rather than a straightforward brochure or mailing. One of the newer forms of advertising with potential to reach many prospective customers is Internet marketing.

We can advise you on all the rules and regulations in this area. On 26th May, the new Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 comes into force. These regulations have an impact on buzz marketing and marketing via social networking web sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

The regulations introduce a new criminal offence of “Falsely claiming or creating the impression that the trader is not acting for purposes relating to his trade, business, craft or profession or falsely representing oneself as a consumer” (sched 1 para 22). This has huge implications for the advertising industry as some modern advertising methods work on the basis that individuals online are engaged to recommend a product to their friends or a group of individuals go to sit in a bar or other public place and talk loudly about the virtues of a particular product. So from 26th May, planting a comment in a blog without making clear that the message has been placed by or on behalf of the business could be a criminal offence.

In addition, anyone seeding viral advertisements online in a way that implies they are just a member of the public could also infringe that prohibition. Another area where businesses often fall foul of the law is where they use photographs in brochures, on websites and online without permission from the copyright owner. It always pays to check difficult legal issues with lawyers before an expensive marketing campaign is launched and also to ensure there are writing contracts with advertising agencies which makes clear whether the agency or customer are responsible for legal compliance.

For further advice on the impact the new regulations, contact Cathy Cook at our Wakefield office in West Yorkshire

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