New position on covert advertising targeting social media advertising in the Nordics

  Written on 22.08.2016

At any time, a consumer must be able to realize when he or she is being exposed to advertising – regardless of the form of the advertising and in which media the advertising appears.

This rule on identification of advertising is easily neglected in connection with advertising via social media and through use of native and content marketing, and the Nordic Consumer Ombudsmen has therefore recently issued their new position on covert advertising. 

The new position on covert advertising is the Nordic Consumer Ombudsmen’s joint view on how the rule of identification of advertising shall be interpreted and shall serve as a guideline to companies across the Nordic region on, what to be aware of when marketing their products and services.

As a starting point, it is the position of the Nordic Ombudsmen that the term advertising includes all forms of communication with the purpose of increasing the sale of goods or services, including general branding of the company, and shall generally be construed in a very broad sense.

The Ombudsmen especially focuses on advertising via social media and digital news platforms as well as native advertising and content marketing. In this regard, companies should be aware that all stake holders contributing substantially to the advertising may be held responsible for complying with rule on identification of advertising under the relevant marketing practices act.

The other focus areas in the Ombudsmen’s joint position are:

  • Advertisements must be identifiable as such from the outset of the advertisement. The recipient of the advertisement must know that what he/she is looking at is in fact an advertisement, and this must not first become clear in middle or in the end, but from the very beginning.
  • When a company advertises through a third party, e.g. a blogger, on social media, the name of the advertising company must appear in the advertisement in a manner so clear that the recipient of the advertisement understands that the third party’s post is actually an advertisement. This is the procedure regardless if the third party has been paid or not for the post.
  • Advertising directed at children is subject to a more strict compliance assessment as this audience is more easily impacted by covert marketing.

It is worth noticing that even more strict rules apply to advertising for medicinal products and medical devices, which is regulated by sector specific advertising rules.

Delacour’s team of specialists within marketing, life sciences and IP-law advices on all forms of advertising and marketing activities carried out by the life science industry,  including advertising for foodstuff, dietary supplements, medicinal products (OTC and prescription only medicine) and medical devices.