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Retail advertising guide

Consumer Protection's goal is to influence the marketplace to become fairer, more competitive and better informed

All advertising should tell the truth about a product or service and allow consumers to make well-informed decisions.

This is an easy-to-follow guide for anyone preparing or publishing material which advertises goods and services. It will help you ensure that your advertising material is fair and accurate and does not break the law.

The legal principles explained here apply to advertising in all media – print, radio, television and outdoor. However, the examples here relate mainly to the print media.

When preparing advertising it is important to keep the target audience in mind. Courts have concluded that advertisers should know that readers (as well as listeners or viewers) will include the shrewd and the gullible, the educated and uneducated, with varying degrees of experience in commercial transactions.

Prospective buyers should not have to "read between the lines". This means that leaving out relevant facts can be just as misleading or deceptive as including inaccurate or incorrect information. Accordingly, an advertisement may be considered misleading even though it may not deceive more wary readers.

Here is a seven-step checklist to guide you when preparing advertising:

  1. Is the advertised price accurate and can the savings be substantiated?
  2. Do the photos/illustrations accurately reflect the advertised goods?
  3. Is the overall impression of the advertisement clear?
  4. Has the advertisement been proof read by a person not directly involved in its preparation?
  5. Have you ensured reasonable quantities of stock will be available at the start of the campaign?
  6. Have in-store price advertising and check-out systems been adjusted?
  7. Have staff been told of the impending sales campaign

For more information on specific advertising issues that are frequently the cause of disputes, click on the following links.

General information