As technology continues to thrive, the available outlets to market your business become seemingly unlimited. Your BBB wants to help your business avoid unintentionally creating confusing or misleading ads that could result in an advertising challenge.
It is key to understand that the primary responsibility for truthful and non-deceptive advertising rests in your hands. The Code of Advertising explains that your company must be able to support or substantiate any claims or offers made before publication or broadcast. As a precaution, when you are drafting marketing phrases and promotions, ask yourself “can we provide physical support for this claim?” If an advertising medium or BBB has any doubt about your advertisements, upon request, your company is required to provide substantiation, promptly.
One misuse of advertisement that our BBB staff frequently finds during ad reviews is “puffery.” For example, on several websites, collateral materials and broadcast spots, some companies name themselves the “best,” “best in Maryland” or “premier company in the industry.” While BBB supports company pride and confidence, you must be careful when using such terms to endorse your business. If your company has been named the best in your industry by a local magazine, newspaper, or other credible source, you should specify the source in your claim to avoid confusing consumers. You do not want to mislead consumers and risk the chance of losing their trust and ultimately their business.
Sometimes businesses tend to draw customers by advertising a maximum percentage off sale. For instance, a company may advertise a storewide sale “up to 70 percent off”. This type of promotion is permissible. However, if your company decides to use this type of ad, under the code, at least 10 percent of your sale items must be discounted at the maximum percentage advertised.
The most efficient way to illustrate your sale is to publicize a sales range, such as, 30 to 70 percent off. By advertising a specified sales range, consumers will have a better grasp of your sale.
BBB understands your company may be overwhelmed with its daily tasks and goals. However, we strongly encourage you to schedule a time to review your website, collateral materials, broadcast spots, etc. to ensure you can provide substantiation. For a guide, please refer to the Code of Advertising. If you need help identifying possible deceptive claims or reviewing ads before you issue them, don’t hesitate to contact your BBB.