An advert that shows a competitor’s product in a bad light can have a major impact on customers. However, new regulations due to come into force on 26th May are a useful reminder to those involved with advertising their products that strict legal rules must be followed.

Ads must be fair. Comparisons with a competitor should compare like for like. It is even lawful to use a competitor’s trade name in an ad as long as the rules are followed. The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 were due to come into force in April but (with other regulations — Consumer Protection from Misleading from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs)) have been delayed to 26th May.

Now is a good time to check contracts with advertising agencies which are notoriously poorly drawn up and also ensure sales teams and in-house advertising people are fully up to speed with the new rules. The CPRs have also been delayed to 26th May which gives businesses more time to get up to speed and change practices. The regulations have an impact in all kinds of areas including viral marketing and advertisements hidden in blogs and the like.

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