Advertising Laws Video YES! Advertising laws are complicated. There are a lot of them. And there are even more urban myths about what rights consumers have (or do not have). But the consumer and advertising laws have a dominant theme: don’t screw your customer and trick them into buying stuff from you. That seems like common sense, right? It isn’t always, though. I have seen many a good company get bit by things like “ladies night” (illegal in California, for example). Anyone who has been reading my blogs for a while knows that I am not a big fan of government regulations. Ladies Night is a perfect example of a regulation having a perverse effect (it’s illegal because it’s gender discrimination!). That being said, I have experiences that make me understand why they exist. For example, I was recently approached by Covington Who’s Who for inclusion in their book and on their website. I said no. They pressed on and repeatedly lowered their price. Finally, they offered me plane tickets as part of an online-only membership for $200. I asked, “what’s the catch?” They told me that the tickets have some restrictions but that was it. Since I fly a lot and can always use plane tickets and networking links into my website, I said “OK.” In retrospect, I shouldn’t have. First off, the catch on the plane tickets is that they require a 5-day hotel stay. Then they processed an order and billed me more than they represented and for the book that I specifically declined. (I never even got the book!) I immediately called them up and protested. The response: “We don’t have a recording of you saying ‘no’ so we will not refund it.” I say, “Do you have a recording of me saying, yes?” Well, of course they don’t. Hey, guys, that’s not how you make an enforceable contract! I’m annoyed. I will prevail because I’m abnormally stubborn. But it wastes my time. (Bonus Advice: if any of you get a call from Covington, tell them your lawyer advises against you affiliating with them because they suck.) All my clients are awesome people and ethical businesses, so I don’t need to tell you to not be like Covington. But I still made a video for you on general things to keep in mind when selling your products.

Are there any laws I should know about when advertising my business? YES! There are several, in fact – too many to list in this video. As a good starting place, keep in mind that the laws embody some general principles:

  1. Whatever you say about your business or products, be honest.
  2. Deal with your customers in good faith.
  3. Don’t send anyone anything they didn’t explicitly ask for.
  4. If it is unlawful discrimination in a shop, its unlawful discrimination online and in advertisements. Be very cautious when engaging in gender or race specific promotions and pricing.
  5. You should have fair and clear contracts governing your business affairs, including on your website or in advertisements.
  6. If you are advertising to children, control your content.
  7. Don’t copy other people’s work.

If you have any questions, ask a business law lawyer before putting out an ad that costs you more than it makes you. You can also see this video and others on Alicia Dearn’s YouTube Channel.

Share This