Marketing and Advertising your Food and Drinks business – are you sure you’re compliant?

April 11, 2017

Now you’ve got your business going and are happy with the brand, you’ll want to start promoting it to get customers through the door and buying! Let’s take a brief look at how to do that the right way, staying compliant and on-side with the law…

UK Government & European Commission Compliance

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator and is responsible for ensuring that the UK Government and European Commission’s legislation around advertising are complied with.

As with the labelling on your product, any promotional material you employ to spread the word of your brand must comply with the European Commission’s ‘Health Claims’ directive. This is to protect consumers against misleading statements that encourage them to buy your products. Whether this is on a flyer, on a billboard or even on social media, make sure you are authorised to say what you are saying!

A crucial part of the Advertising Standards Authority’s work is concerned with the protection of children from potential harm, who are of course highly susceptible to influence from advertisers. As legitimate consumers, this doesn’t mean you can’t advertise to them, it simply means you have to follow certain rules. The Committee of Advertising Practice is the board which sets these rules (it’s ‘Code’) to be complied with and defines children as those under 16. Broadly speaking, marketers should ensure that communications don’t contain anything that is likely to result in the physical, mental or moral harm of a child or encourage bad behaviour. ‘Hard pressure’ and ‘hard-sell’ techniques should be avoided and you shouldn’t take advantage of negative emotions such as fear or a lack of self-confidence. You can use licensed characters and celebrities (except if you directly target primary and pre-school children) to promote products but this must be done with a due sense of responsibility e.g. you cannot suggest that buying the product will help the child emulate the figure!

Part of the government’s ongoing childhood obesity inquiry, in 2007 media and communications regulator Ofcom introduced broadcasting restrictions to significantly reduce the exposure of children to TV advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar or ‘HFSS’ foods. This means that if you ever wanted to go down the broadcasting route, you need to be aware of the restrictions which are still in effect today. For example, you can’t advertise food considered to be HFSS during in and around programmes with a ‘disproportionately high child audience’ (specifically appealing to children between 4 and 15).

You can see more detailed guidance on how to lawfully market and advertise directly to children on the ASA’s website. The rules are constantly changing, however, and if you are unsure you should always seek professional advice.

Promotions

Promotions are a great way to drive sales and to increase awareness of your brand- but don’t get caught out by the laws that surround them. Promotions are defined as any ‘money off’ offers e.g. ‘two for the price of one’/’10% off’ or any prize draws, instant wins or competitions. You are also subject to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, Gambling Act 2005, Data Protection Act 1998 and the Betting, Gaming Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, so make sure the promotion is not unlawful from the outset. Here is a good example list of rules set by the Committee of Advertising Practice Code that you should be aware of, though this is not exhaustive so do check out their website for the latest updates:

On the whole, you should conduct your promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal with participants fairly and honourably. You must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.

  • Your promotions must be safe and cause no harm to consumers or their property.
  • No promotions of alcohol to under 18s.
  • Must not be socially undesirable e.g. encourage irresponsible use.
  • Make sure you have sufficient resources to handle the delivery of the promotion effectively.
  • With the advertisement of the promotion, you must include all applicable conditions if the omission of the conditions is likely to mislead. These include:
    – How to participate
    – Free-entry route explanation
    – Start date and closing date
    – Proof of purchase (if any requirements)
    – Description of the prizes and gifts
    – Any restrictions
    – Availability
    – Promoter’s name and address
  • Within the CAP’s Code, there are rules surrounding the specific targeting of children and also incorporating charity-linked promotions too so be sure to check out it out.

One final note on promotions is that you should also ensure any promotional partners have adequate insurance cover for prize winners. This should be stated in any contracts you draw up with them. If you have promotional items such as toys, you should make sure they are sourced in an ethical manner and conform to any necessary quality standards, recognisable by symbols such as CE.

Well, after all that, we’re sure that your sales will be skyrocketing and you’ll be on the right side of the law as you grow rapidly.   If you have any questions about compliance or you’d like to speak with one of our expert LawBriefs for a free legal advice consultation you can submit an enquiry here or call us today on 020 7148 1066.

 

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