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Legal Print Advertising FAQs for Every Small Business

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Print Advertising and Legal Guidelines

There are some legal guidelines and requirements when it comes to print advertising in the USA. Every small business owner in America should understand some very common legal FAQs in order to avoid any legal complications. Even a small mistake in this area could have very big consequences.

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What is the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914?

The Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 is a federal law which was originally passed in 1914. This law was designed to prevent deceptive and unfair advertising and practices. The FTC Act was passed in order to protect consumers from unscrupulous businesses and advertising methods. It also prevents monopolies from forming that could adversely affect consumers.

How Does This Act Apply to Print Advertising?

The FTC Act of 1914 applies to print advertising, as well as the other mediums available for marketing. All ads and marketing activities must follow the guidelines set out by the law. This ensures that consumers are provided with accurate information and not deceived or misled by any business. All advertising methods and companies must comply with this consumer protection law.

What is Deceptive Advertising?

Deceptive advertising occurs when an ad contains statements, or even fails to include information, that has a high likelihood of deceiving consumers. This is assuming that consumers are using reasonable judgment, given the situation and circumstances. In addition, the statements or omissions must be material to the decision by the consumer to purchase the product or service.

What is an Unfair Advertisement?

An unfair ad or business practice can exist in print advertising, a television commercial, or a radio ad. It has a high likelihood of causing consumer injury, and is not reasonably avoidable. In addition, the injury involved is not one that is outweighed by the product or service benefits offered. Both standards must be met for the practice or ad to be deemed unfair.

Important Truth in Advertising Rules to Follow

The FTC Act of 1914 outlines some important advertising rules to follow. These include:

• Ads have to be truthful, they can not be deceiving
• An advertiser must be able to back up the claims made with evidence
• Any ad cannot be unfair

The act contains additional rules that must be followed for products that are specialized. These products include mail order products, 1-900 telephone numbers, consumer leases, jewelry, and other product categories.

Who Determines Whether There is a Reasonable Basis for Advertising Claims?

If there are any complaints or questions about an ad, including print advertising, the FTC is the agency responsible. This agency will determine whether there is a reasonable basis for the claims made. The commission will typically evaluate the ad with the view of a reasonable consumer. Then it is determined whether it has a reasonable basis, or is unfair or deceptive in some way.

Which Advertising Claims are a Priority for the FTC?

Generally, the FTC places a priority on advertising that involves suspicious health or safety claims. It also investigates advertising that involves claims which consumers could not be reasonably be expected to evaluate on their own. The FTC focuses less on any ads which make claims that are easier for consumers to evaluate, or which are considered subjective.

What Penalties Apply for Deceptive or Unfair Advertising?

If the FTC determines that a business has engaged in advertising that is unfair or deceptive, there are penalties which may be applied. This advertising includes television, print advertising or other methods. The committee can:

• Issue cease and desist orders
• Apply monetary remedies, like civil penalties and financial consumer redress
• Force a company to run certain disclosures or corrected ads

Will the FTC Clear an Ad Before it is Used?

It is not possible to get clearance for print advertising from the FTC before the ad is released for publication. The agency does provide extensive guidelines to help companies stay on the right side of the law. There are guidelines for specialized products that can be found on the website. The FTC makes an effort to provide knowledge to businesses, and ensure that all advertising complies with federal law.

What other legal FAQs about print advertising have you needed answered in the past?

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Elizabeth Crane

Elizabeth Crane grew up not wearing a helmet, drinking from the hose and not wearing a seat belt. She managed to survive and now spends her time developing websites, drinking coffee, and eating chocolate.