The Running Commentary

Consumer Protection Act: Creativity should not be confused with deception

It is little wonder that marketers have poor reputations and struggle to break out of the mould of “second hand cars salesmen”, when so many leave the “legal” side of their profession up to others. I know that this is a strong opening statement, which is sure to draw a negative response, but my frustration over this issue continues to grow in leaps and bounds.

It appears to me that many of my colleagues have abdicated the need to understand the legislation that surrounds their business and marketing communication in favour of a “let’s see what happens if we do this approach”.  Alternatively, they have watered down their communication to such extent that it is now simply dull and boring. The justification for this approach being that “we do not want to fall foul of the law and legal have advised that this is the best strategy”

Conversely there are many businesses out there that are flagrantly breaking the law, this may be as a result of a genuine lack of understanding of the legislation. Equally though it may simply be a “let’s see what we can get away with approach” This second group of businesses are the ones that scare me most, as they are making unsubstantiated and misleading claims about their businesses and/or products, that result in consumers being mislead (and often times hurt or disappointed).

The added concern for me about this, is that these folk are in their own right consumers and, one wonders what they would feel or how they would react if they were on the receiving end of the failed promise.  My guess is that they would react with much anger, ranting and raving.

Let’s break it down into simple terms, you do not need to be a legal expert to stay within the confines of legislation and still have a message that is both compelling and worthwhile.  All that the legislation has sought to do is protect the consumer from unscrupulous marketing practices.  Simply put if your own message or promise does not sit well with you then perhaps it is not correct and therefore should not be sent out.  If you look at your own product statement and mumble something of the lines of “this seems to good to be true”, then it probably is and this message should not reach the consumer.

Let me conclude by saying that being creative does not mean that you need to be deceptive and too many companies are still confusing the two……..

Advertisingbusinesscommunicationconsumer protection actCPAMarketingMarketing Strategysocial mediaSouth Africa

Mike • January 3, 2012

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