What mistakes in advertising does the FAS fine advertisers for?

Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. However, some entrepreneurs are in no hurry to become familiar with the advertising law, much less comply with its requirements, including with regard to video advertising . The antimonopoly service in this case is very categorical: fine! Let's briefly remember what advertising, according to the law, cannot be done, what is unacceptable, and consider this using the example of prohibited videos.

What the law says

The Advertising Law No. 38-FZ has been in force since 2006 and has been amended several times during this time. The latest version came into force on January 1, 2020. The purpose of the law is to make advertising as fair and reliable as possible.

Reliable advertising, to which the antimonopoly committee has no complaints:

  • does not compare the product with competitors;
  • does not desecrate the reputation of competitors;
  • displays real information about a product or service (characteristics, advantages, composition, guarantees, certificates, cost, etc.);
  • does not deceive the audience.

Are you dealing with advertising? Be careful: the FAS is closely monitoring you

Case Study

Relatively recently, a well-known global monopolist in an advertisement compared its product with “ordinary washing powder.” Meanwhile, a small household chemical manufacturer released a laundry detergent and called it “Regular Laundry Detergent.”

Everything was registered legally, and the powder itself was packaged in simple boxes, sometimes the same as those in the monopolist’s commercial. Soon, a small manufacturer of household chemicals filed a lawsuit against the monopolist.

By a court decision, the latter was forced to remove its advertisement, which compared the powder with “regular” one, and the domestic manufacturer received compensation. After this demonstration it was completely discontinued.

Forms of unfair competition include not only illegal actions specified in the law, but also other actions that violate the customs of the business world, the requirements of integrity, reasonableness and fairness. This is confirmed in the law on unfair competition.

In addition to those specified in the Law “On Advertising”, in practice there are also such types of unfair competition as:

  • dumping - selling goods at prices that are lower than production costs;
  • economic espionage is a form of unfair competition that allows companies to use the scientific and technological achievements of their competitors and at the same time save their own funds for conducting the necessary research;
  • counterfeiting competitors' products;
  • ring is a form of unfair competition, which is a short-term agreement between entrepreneurs to buy a specific product and hold it in warehouses in order to raise prices and obtain monopoly profits.

Fundamental prohibitions

It is not easy to objectively evaluate advertising. It is no coincidence that someone considers the same video incorrect, while another considers it completely normal. Therefore, the law clearly states not what advertising should be, but what it should NOT be. An advertisement will be considered illegal if it:

  • induces violence or contains acts of violence;
  • provokes illegal actions;
  • causes a negative attitude in the viewer;
  • manipulates minors.

In advertising you cannot:

  • use foreign words unnecessarily;
  • indicate the cost of the goods in foreign currency;
  • refer to false government approvals;
  • use hidden advertising;
  • guarantee the positive effect of the medicine, etc.

Example No. 1. Advertising of MTS satellite television equipment.

Reliable advertising should not desecrate the reputation of competitors. In 2021, MTS released a video advertisement for satellite equipment, in which it practically trampled traditional terrestrial television. “Don't bother with old TV. Switch to satellite” - this is the slogan in the video. Terrestrial television is presented as unreliable and outdated, despite the fact that, according to the FAS, it has a number of advantages over satellite television.

The FAS recognized such a comparison as incorrect, and the advertising as unfair. The case was referred for review. The fine for such a violation ranges from 100 to 500 thousand rubles.

Unacceptable actions in advertising

Advertising must be useful and not make people want to be destructive or illegal. These are the prohibitions that apply to all types of advertising. Advertising must not:

  • call for violence, defiant behavior, the desire to possess this object at the expense of the peace and health of other people;
  • cause negative perceptions among people who do not purchase or use the product;
  • resemble road signs or directions for motorists;
  • when advertising medicines and medicines, use images of doctors and health workers;
  • report that the product was produced using tissue from human embryos;
  • in any way belittle honor and dignity, race, gender or social identity, age, language or nationality, etc.

Advertising that conceals important features of a product that may be perceived negatively is also prohibited. For example, that prohibited substances or materials that cause rejection were used in production.

When creating any advertising materials, you must use only approved methods. Do not try to hush up important facts about the creation of the product. Don't disparage competing companies or their products. While observing the rule of conciseness in advertising, highlight only reliable advantages.

What can't be advertised at all?

The law does not allow advertising of goods and services that are in principle prohibited for sale in our country, for example, narcotic and explosive substances, and human organs. You cannot advertise cigarettes and lighters, or a type of medical intervention such as abortion.

You can do coursework and theses for yourself, but not for others, and accordingly it is not allowed to advertise such services. Also, you should not offer goods and services to the general public without state registration, certification and licenses (if required by Russian law).

From 2021, a fine of up to 50 thousand rubles will be imposed for any advertising of coursework or dissertation papers.

What other restrictions does the advertising law impose?

In some areas you need to be especially careful not to break the law.

  • Alcohol.

If you are advertising alcohol, remember that you cannot:

  1. talk about its positive effect on physical or emotional well-being;
  2. call it harmless to health or able to quench thirst;
  3. condemn abstinence from drinking alcohol;
  4. contact minors;
  5. use images of people;
  6. do not indicate “Excessive alcohol consumption is harmful to your health” (the inscription must occupy at least 10% of the advertising space).

Since 2012, alcohol advertising on television, radio, the Internet and other sources has been prohibited. However, some manage to “subtly” advertise a certain brand in the middle of a harmless themed video. The case usually ends in a fine.

Example No. 2. Hidden whiskey advertising.

Famous video blogger Ilya Varlamov posted a video on his channel “Non-tourist Cairo: garbage, cemetery and pigs.” In the middle of the video, the blogger sits at a table and talks about “high matters.” On the table, with the label facing the viewer, there is a bottle of Dewar's whiskey. The author not only decorated the table with it, but also harmoniously wove whiskey into the outline of his story as an argument. The advertising law has been violated - a case has been opened.

  • Medicines, medical products and services (including cosmetology).

In such advertising it is prohibited to say:

  1. about cases of cure of specific patients and show relevant reviews;
  2. that there is no need to see a doctor;
  3. about positive impact;
  4. about the safety of a product or service.

Advertising must contain a warning about the presence of contraindications; advertising must refer to instructions for use and consultation with a specialist. The minimum duration of such warnings in an advertising video is 5 seconds, and the information must occupy at least 7% of the frame area.

Example No. 3. Commercial for Hexoral spray with the participation of Philip Kirkorov.

In the spring of 2021, the FAS found a violation in the Hexoral commercial with the participation of Philip Kirkorov, which was broadcast on TV-3, STS and Channel One. The hero of the video makes it clear that the sore throat disappears after using the drug. Advertising seems to convince viewers of a positive effect, guarantees it, and this is a clear violation of the law.

The video contains a large, clearly visible phrase “Hexoral. Disease extinguisher No. 1" with a corresponding footnote. It clarifies that the spray is the leader in the Hexoral line in terms of sales (and not on the market, among all drugs, as it might seem to an inexperienced viewer). By law, such clarifications must occupy at least 7% of the screen area and be broadcast for at least 5 seconds. In the video, the footnote takes up only 2% of the screen and is shown for 3 seconds, which is also a violation of the law.

  • Dietary supplements and baby food.

Such advertising should not create the impression that dietary supplements help cure diseases. Otherwise, everything is the same as with medicines. A warning that the drug is not a medicine must occupy at least 5% of the advertising space.

  • Gambling.

In advertising of gambling and risky bets you cannot:

  1. downplay the risk;
  2. guarantee receipt of winnings;
  3. condemn people's non-participation;
  4. use images of people;
  5. form the impression of this type of income as the main source of income;
  6. contact minors.

On television, such advertising is broadcast, by law, from 23.00 to 7.00. During the broadcast of sporting events, its duration should not exceed 20% of the total advertising time.

Example No. 4. Advertising of a prohibited online casino.

In 2021, the leader in the number of views was the advertising video of the online casino Azino777, which overtook advertising from Yandex, Coca-Cola and Tele2. The video stars rapper Vitya AK-47, who in an obsessively aggressive manner agitates to play in a casino. The video deliberately downplays the risk and creates the impression that this activity is highly profitable, which is contrary to the law on advertising.

The manufacturer can place such illegal advertising only on sites with pirated content, which are regularly blocked by the FAS.

  • Financial services and construction.

Special requirements apply to banking, insurance and other financial services. There should be no guarantee of income. A mandatory requirement is the most complete information about credits or loans. Forex trading advertisements must contain a warning about high risks.

It is possible to attract funds from individuals through advertising only for shared housing construction. In this case, the advertisement must contain a link to the project declaration and the name of the legal entity.

Example No. 5. Advertising of the Manhattan residential complex in Chelyabinsk.

Sometimes information in video advertising becomes outdated - the video automatically falls into the category of illegal, since it now presents inaccurate, incorrect information to viewers. This happened with the video presentation of the Manhattan residential complex, created in 2013. The problem arose in 2021. The video presentation still advertised the residential complex on the website, but information about the delivery of houses in it in 2014 and 2015. deprecated:

In 2015, changes were made to the project declarations of the facility regarding the timing of delivery and full completion of the project. The Chelyabinsk OFAS recognized the advertisement as improper, issued an order to stop its broadcast due to false information, and also handed over the materials to initiate an administrative case.

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