Before you launch that fantastic new campaign your marketing team dreamt up, you must ensure it complies with all advertising laws. There are both federal and state laws that have to be constantly considered.
Here are the general concepts governing the way you advertise your business through the use of an example:
You must have evidence to back up the claims you make in your ads
You cannot lie or set out to deceive. For example, if you make freeze-dried food, you cannot say, “As used by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin when they flew to the moon,” if they did not take your food.
But, you can exaggerate and give a subjective opinion
You can launch a media campaign saying your food is “loved by astronauts around the world” if you know that some of them like it a lot. You can probably even say “the best-tasting food for those going to space” because there’s no real way of proving what is (or is not) the best-tasting space food, so it comes down to subjective opinion.
You never want to make factual claims you cannot back up
Advertising your foods as “the most nutritionally complete food for astronauts” or “the only food packs to provide all an astronaut’s daily nutrition requirements” will be more problematic unless you have scientific evidence that your claims are true.
Your ads cannot be unfair to consumers
Let’s say your ad convinces astronauts to try your food. If they suffer from malnutrition because it does not provide the daily sustenance you claimed, that could be considered unfair. You sold them a false promise, which a reasonable person would believe, and they suffered harm due to that.
What if you are suffering due to another company’s false advertising?
You may be able to deal with the issue at a federal level by complaining to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or suing under the Lanham Act if another company’s false advertising harms you. To sue, you will need to prove the following conditions are true:
- They made factually false claims
- Their ad deceived large numbers of the target audience or could have
- A significant part of the ad was deceptive
- Their false advertising harmed you
Note that the Lanham Act won’t apply if the issue only applies to one state. Another option would be to sue under state laws covering unfair competition.
If you have doubts about the legality of an advertising or communications campaign, contact us for a consultation. We help Florida businesses stay in compliance with federal and state governing rules and regulations.