Restrictions to marketing and advertising
Advertising is an important part of your company’s marketing. As an entrepreneur, you must comply with the acts and practices concerning advertising. The restrictions and obligations may concern the advertising of certain products, the advertising concerning special groups, the method of advertising, advertisement channels and copyrights.
Advertising is regulated by, for instance, the Consumer Protection Act, the International Code of Advertising Practice, Unfair Business Practices Act and legislation concerning competition. You must also comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. Rules specific to the used advertising media and industry as well as good marketing practices also guide advertising.
For example, according to the Consumer Protection Act, marketing targeted at consumers may not be
- contrary to good practice
- false or misleading
- lacking in essential information
Restrictions also concern advertising certain products (incl. alcohol) and the advertising aimed at special groups (incl. children). The statutes may also concern the method and channels of advertising, including hidden and outdoors advertising. You must also take copyrights into account.
You must personally make sure that your company’s marketing complies with statutes and follows good practices. If you use an advertising agency, you must always draw up a written agreement that indicates the distribution of responsibilities.
The same, general rules of marketing and advertisement usually apply to all marketing channels. However, specific additional regulations and recommendations may be related to different channels.
For example, in television and radio advertising, your company must comply with the Finnish Act on Electronic Communication Services, addition to the general rules. The additional regulations and recommendations are related to issues such as the placement of advertisements, time and duration of advertising, and product placement.
In outdoor advertising, your company must take into account the fact that the advertisements are visible to everyone, including children. The prohibition of advertising contrary to good practice is particularly concerned with marketing that reaches children. Outdoor advertising is also restricted by the municipality’s own regulations, the Highways Act, and the Land Use and Building Act.
In online marketing, your company must pay particular attention to the recognisability of advertising as well as copyrights and related permissions. Also pay attention to the protection of privacy and responsible freedom of expression. Social media services also have their own rules on marketing and advertising.
Find out which restrictions apply to different channels on a case-by-case basis.
The supervision of marketing and advertising is fragmented between several different administrative branches.
The Consumer Ombudsman is a general authority for consumer advertising. The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom) is responsible for the supervision of radio and television advertising. Finnish Food Authority oversees the advertising of food, beverages and tobacco, and Fimea the advertising of drugs. Valvira supervises the alcohol and tobacco legislation.
In addition to the Consumer Ombudsman, the Regional State Administrative Agency supervises indicating prices in advertising. The Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman supervises data protection issues related to marketing.
The decisions and solutions of, among others, the Consumer Disputes Board, Market Court, the Board of Business Practice of the Chamber of Commerce, the Finnish Data Protection Board and general courts of law also guide marketing and advertising.
You can ask the supervisory authority on the restrictions to marketing and advertising on a case-by-case basis.
First, you should directly contact the party that misused your material. The other party may not even be aware of having done something wrong, for example in cases of copyright infringement. In such cases, the other party is typically willing to cooperate and the issue is easy to solve.
If the misuse has caused damage to your company, you may demand the other party to compensate for or reimburse it. If you are unable to settle the case, it may be processed in a court of law. This allows you to demand both financial compensation and a penalty in accordance with the Copyright Act. The Tort Liability Act is also applied in cases concerning compensation for damage.
In issues concerning violations, more information and help is available from the Copyright Council, which operates under the Ministry of Education and Culture. You may also contact the Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre.