From time to time I like to remind clients of specific network guidelines to keep in mind when developing advertising. One such guideline involves guarantees or warranties.
Per the network guidelines, references to guarantees, warranties, or similar terms in advertising copy must comply with all applicable laws and governmental rules and regulations, including the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the rules promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission.
Advertisers should generally disclose whether an advertised warranty is “full” or “limited,” its duration, and any major limitations of the warranty, such as, parts excluded, costs or responsibilities the customer must undertake. Advertisers should also disclose that rest of the warranty can be seen at the store, e.g., “See dealer for details,” or the like.
The following guidelines apply to advertising referencing a guarantee, warranty, or other promise or representation in the nature of a guarantee or warranty:
- A copy of the actual written guarantee or warranty should be submitted to Broadcast Standards and Practices with the advertising.
- In general, any commercial referencing a guarantee or warranty must either clearly and conspicuously disclose that the guarantee or warranty is available for presale inspection before purchase, or disclose the material terms and limitations of the warranty. This disclosure can be presented in either the audio portion or in the video portion as a printed disclosure, provided that the video disclosure appears on screen for at least five seconds. The disclosure must be made simultaneously with, or immediately following, the warranty claim.
- “Satisfaction or your money back,” “30 day free trial,” or similar representation will be construed as a guarantee that the full purchase price will be refunded at the option of the purchaser. Any material conditions, such as, return of product within a specific period after the purchase date, must be disclosed as provided in guideline 2 above.
- If “lifetime,” “life,” or similar terms are used in advertising to indicate the duration of a guarantee, and they relate to any life other than that of the purchaser or original user, the life referred to must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed.
- A guarantee can be employed in advertisement to constitute a claim. An example is: “Guaranteed to improve gas mileage when added to your car’s tank.” In such a case, the guarantor must not only undertake to perform under the terms of the guarantee and provide the disclosure required in guideline 2 above, but also must substantiate any express or implied claims.
The networks have specific policies regarding the use of guarantees and warranties in advertising. So, if you have plans to create advertising which references a guarantee or warranty, make sure the advertising complies with the network guidelines. And remember, when in doubt, ask questions. The network editors are there to answer any questions you may have.
Marilyn Colaninno is Director of Rights and Clearances for Reed Smith and is responsible for clearing commercials for the firm’s many clients in the advertising industry.
If you have specific questions, please contact Marilyn directly at 212-549-0347 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.