New advertising decree
for consumer protection
Clear separation between editorial
and paid messages should be made
The Ministry of Economy has issued a decree to regulate advertising activities that promote goods and services. The ruling aims to protect the rights of consumers and children and to ensure that fair competition among brand owners is respected.
The new regulations are needed as the advertising landscape has become more complex, said George Jabbour President of the Advertising Association. Up until now advertising agencies practiced self-discipline but with the proliferation of media outlets things can get out of control especially on social media, he said.
The new ruling stipulates that personal testimonials should be genuine and should be given by experts who have carried out experiments on the advertised product. It also requires that transparency and clarity are applied when prices are announced. The price information should show the cost elements including the value added tax and other taxes as well as the cost of transportation when applicable.
Promotional offers that include discounts, gifts, and other benefits should not mislead consumers and should specify the price of the product and the features of the gift. The ruling prohibits mixing between advertising and editorial matters. It also forbids mixing between advertising and opinion.
The verdict prohibits the use of incorrect and biased comparison between brands and focusing on trivial features while ignoring vital ones. False or misleading claims about the advertised product, its characteristics and safety are not allowed. All claims should be based on facts and scientific evidence and all related documents should be submitted to the concerned authorities upon request. The verdict also includes stipulations aiming to protect children such as specifying the age bracket that can use the advertised product or service and avoiding conveying any message that could cause mental, moral, or physical harm to children.
Jabbour said that the new regulations serve as guidelines that define and clarify the rights and obligations of players in the advertising market. They also help courts pass judgments more quickly and more smoothly in advertising cases, he said.
The Advertising Association is seeking the approval of the authorities to legalize advertising for over-the-counter drugs that don’t require medical prescriptions, Jabbour said.
Reported by Shikrallah Nakhoul
Date Posted: May 13, 2016