Vietnam Warns Brands About Advertising on YouTube; Philip Morris Suspends Influencer Marketing; NYC Sues For False Advertising
  • Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2019
Managing Partner of Frankfurt Kurnit since 2010, Jeffrey A. Greenbaum is one of the country’s leading advertising lawyers. He is a partner in the Frankfurt Kurnit Klein + Selz's Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations Group and has extensive experience representing advertisers, advertising agencies, and media companies on advertising, branded entertainment, and intellectual property matters. He is also the Chairman of the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance.

Vietnam Warns Brands About Advertising on YouTube Videos That Contain "Anti-State Propaganda"

Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communication has reached out to various companies and told them to stop advertising on YouTube videos that contain "anti-state propaganda," according to news reports.

Apparently, Vietnam's government identified more than 50,000 YouTube videos that it said violated Vietnamese law.  

Although technology may allow for media space to be bought easily around the world, this action emphasizes the importance of knowing when to work with local advertising agencies and counsel to ensure that the advertising content running in that country complies with local standards.  

Philip Morris Suspends Influencer Marketing After Questions Are Raised About the Ages of its Influencers

Reuters recently reported that Philip Morris had decided to stop a worldwide social media advertising campaign promoting its ISOS device after questions were raised by Reuters about the age of the influencers being used by Philip Morris. The IQOS device heats tobacco, rather than burning it, in order to release nicotine-containing vapor without generating smoke.

In its own Marketing Standards, Philip Morris says that it will not use "models who are or appear to be under the age of 25."  The Marketing Standards also say that, "All our marketing professionals, wherever they are in the world, must uphold these marketing practices at all times." 

According to Reuters' investigation, Philip used at least one model in the campaign, Alina Apilina, who is under age 25.  Reuters reported that the company said that, as a result, it has "taken the decision to suspend all of our product-related digital influencer actions globally."  

In order to show that they're responsible marketers, companies sometimes create their own advertising guidelines, and then promote the fact that they will comply with them.  One of the important things to keep in mind, however, is that if you say you're going to comply with your advertising guidelines, and you fail to do so, regulators or others could take the position that you're engaging in false advertising.  Even if you're agreeing to comply with standards that are beyond what the law requires, by advertising that you're going to comply with them, that can be enough to form the basis of a claim.  What does this all mean?  Well, if you're going to tell consumers that you comply with certain standards, you had better have procedures in place to ensure that you do. 

NYC Sues Used Car Dealers for False Advertising and Other Deceptive Practices

The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection sued two used car dealers, along with their owners, alleging that they engaged in false advertising and other deceptive and unlawful trade practices.  The DCWP is seeking more than $200,000 in restitution, civil penalties, and the suspension or revocation of the dealers' licenses.  

The DCWP alleged that Champion Auto Sales advertised low prices for used cars, but then refused to honor those prices when consumers showed up at the dealer.  The DCWP also alleged that Prestige Motor Sales advertised cars at low prices "while concealing in fine print that the displayed price is after a $3,000 down payment."  In addition, the DCWP alleged that the dealers engaged in a variety of other illegal sales practices as well.

In what should be a cautionary tale to anyone who is responding to subpoenas or other discovery requests, the DCWP also alleged that Champion modified advertisements before submitting them to DCWP "to make it appear as if each car's advertised price was higher than the price for which Champion sold the automobile."  In addition, the DCWP alleged that Prestige attempted to hide its deceptive practices by not producing the documents that DCWP had requested by subpoena. 

Here are a few take-aways from the DCWP's action.  First, the DCWP has the authority to prosecute advertisers for false advertising.  So, as we have previously written about, it's important to keep New York City's rules in mind when advertising there.  Second, don't be accused of engaging in a bait-and-switch.  If you advertise that a product is available for a price, make sure that the product is available for that price.  Third, don't hide the important details in fine print.  If there's important information that consumers need to know, those details must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the advertising. 

This column presents a general discussion of legal issues, but is not legal advice and may not be applicable in all situations. Consult your attorney. To contact Jeffrey A. Greenbaum ESQ click here.

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Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

Founded more than 40 years ago as a boutique entertainment law firm in New York City, Frankfurt Kurnit now provides the highest quality legal services to clients in a wide range of industries and disciplines worldwide. With leading practices in advertising, entertainment, IP, technology, privacy, litigation, corporate, estate planning, charitable organizations, professional responsibility and other areas — Frankfurt Kurnit can help you face challenging legal and business issues and meet your goals with efficient and practical solutions.

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