Advertising is a powerful tool for promoting a product or service to a specific audience. However, it’s important that businesses do not make misleading claims in their advertisements, as doing so can lead to serious legal consequences. In this article, we provide a guide for businesses on how to avoid false advertising claims.
What is false advertising?
False advertising is when a business makes a false or misleading claim about its products or services in its advertising. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) is responsible for regulating advertising across various media channels in the UK.
How to avoid false advertising claims
Substantiate your claims
One of the most important steps that businesses can take to avoid false advertising claims is to ensure all claims made in their advertising are truthful and can be substantiated. This means the business can provide evidence to support the claim, such as scientific studies or other data. If the advertiser cannot provide evidence to support a claim, they should not make that claim in their advertising.
Use clear & unambiguous language
Advertisers should use clear language in advertising to avoid causing any confusion or misunderstandings. This means avoiding using any vague or overly broad language that could be interpreted in different ways. Businesses should also avoid using technical jargon that is difficult for the average customer to understand. For example, if your business offers IT support for law firms, it’s important you use language that your target customers will recognise.
Avoid comparative claims unless they are accurate
Comparative claims such as ‘our product is better/cheaper than our competitors’ can be very effective in advertising. However, they must be accurate and truthful. Businesses should avoid making exaggerated and unsupported comparative claims that cannot be substantiated. They must be based on factual and verifiable data.
Disclose material information
Advertisers should disclose any material information that could affect a consumer’s (ie a private individual’s) decision to purchase a product or service. This includes any information necessary for the consumer to make an informed decision. Advertisers should be transparent about any limitations or restrictions as well as any potential risks or side effects.
Be aware of endorsement and testimonial guidelines
If a business uses endorsements or testimonials in its advertising, it must comply with ASA guidelines. This means ensuring that any endorsements and testimonials are truthful and not misleading and disclosing any material connections between the endorser and the business.
In conclusion, false advertising can lead to serious legal consequences for businesses, so it’s important to take steps to avoid making misleading claims. Advertisers should substantiate their claims, use clear and unambiguous language, avoid inaccurate comparative claims, and disclose any material information. By following these guidelines, businesses can create effective and legal advertising campaigns that reach their target audience.
Do not hesitate to Ask a lawyer if you have any questions about how to advertise compliantly.