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How Commission Monitors Advertising by Businesses

How Commission Monitors Advertising by Businesses
July 21
11:00 2018

Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) is mandated under the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010 (FCCC Act 2010) to receive and undertake inves­tigations concerning matters relating to consumers.

Such matters are considered and investi­gated under Part 7 ‘Consumer Protection’ of the FCCC Act 2010.

Over the years, FCCC has investigated innumerable consumer grievances to en­sure consumer protection in the Fijian markets.

This article intends to outline one of the most recurring issue which consum­ers have been constantly facing over the years.

Advertising

‘Advertising’ is a common tactic adopted by most businesses to promote their goods and services.

Whether they advertise through televi­sion, radio, billboard, the internet or print media, they must ensure their advertise­ments comply with the FCCC Act 2010.

Advertising and selling practices have evolved rapidly.

These practices no longer occur solely through traditional print media, televi­sion or posters displayed outside the shop.

Nowadays advertising and selling occurs widely via online, such as through email, social media, apps, online shopping sites, price comparison sites, review platforms and search engines.

In Fiji, advertising is the most common form of promoting products or services by the businesses.

It is imperative that businesses under­stand the two fundamental rules of adver­tising.

That is:

nBusinesses must not engage in a con­duct that is likely to mislead or deceive.

nBusinesses must not make false or misleading claims or state­ments about the product or ser­vice they advertise or offer for sale.

If a business is making any claim or statement about a product or service that it offers for sale, the business must be able to substantiate its claim or state­ment with credible evidences.

A misrepresentation is a claim or state­ment that is false or misleading made by one party to another.

This includes claims or statements that businesses make in television or radio advertisements, in catalogues, on labels, on websites, in newspapers, in posters, in promotional materials, in promotional text messages and emails, in social media, in contracts (or during contract negotia­tions), over the telephone, in correspond­ence (such as letters or emails) or in per­son.

Whether such a claim or statement is false or misleading will depend on the cir­cumstances and the case.

Businesses must not make false or mis­leading claims or statements, for example, that goods are of a particular standard, quality, value, grade, composition, style or model or have had a particular history or particular previous use.

Advertising through agency and agents

Businesses often engage agents or adver­tising agencies to assist them in selling their goods or services.

When businesses engage an advertising agency or agent, it is generally the respon­sibility of the businesses to ensure that the advertisement is not misleading or de­ceptive in any way.

To avoid inadvertent breach of the FCCC Act 2010, businesses should take the onus to supervise the activities of its agents or agency.

This means businesses must undertake every measure to ensure that the adver­tisement relating to their product or ser­vice is correct and true in all aspects.

Misleading advertisements

Under the FCCC Act 2010, businesses will be held liable for any misleading or deceptive advertisements, except in cases where the business is able to provide evi­dences that the media outlet had adopted, endorsed and ran a misleading advertise­ment, the media may also be held respon­sible.

Advertising and media outlets such as newspapers, television, radio and online must take particular care in relation to the products or services they advertise for their clients.

They must understand the product or service, the client’s business and the re­quirements under FCCC Act 2010 to mini­mise the risk of breaching the law.

The advertising agency, agents and me­dia outlets must ensure that the final con­tent of the advertisement is authorised by the respective business before it is actu­ally publicised.

Doing this will reduce the possibilities of misleading advertisement and will safe­guard the advertising agency, agents and media outlets against all the culpability.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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