The Directorate-General for Consumers (DGC) and Advertising Self-Regulation (ARP) prepared and disseminated, based on the Cooperation Protocol signed between the parties, a brochure on Advertising Communication in the context of COVID-19, with recommendations for economic agents and alerts for consumers.
The brochure is part of the significant impact of the pandemic on the behavior of companies and consumers, with companies adapting their communication to the digital environment to respond to the needs of consumers in confinement.
DGC and ARP joined forces to remind all professionals in the sector the need for advertising to respect the legal and ethical rules in force, which are also applicable in the digital environment, where social networks are included, conveying clear, true, understandable and legible, to enable consumers to make informed choices.
Among the alerts to consumers are the precautions to be taken when purchasing products or services in the current context, so that they can make their purchases safely, and the importance of confirming the veracity of campaigns to raise goods and financial donations, before making any contribution.
These joint recommendations result from the cooperative work between the entities, namely with regard to the information and awareness of economic operators to adopt good commercial practices compatible with the rights of consumers.
The Directorate-General for Consumers, within the scope of its powers of inspection and sanctioning in the matter of advertising, will continue its inspection activity and adopt the necessary measures to stop the abusive practices that are identified and the Advertising Self Regulation will continue to provide various services, to advertisers, agencies and media, whether or not they are members, to ensure ethical and responsible advertising, to the benefit of consumers and fair competition.
João Torres, Secretary of State for Commerce, Services, and Consumer Protection, highlighted that “With Covid-19, we are faced with new challenges in multiple domains, with advertising not being an exception. In this sense, it is important to remember the rules and principles to which this modality of communication must obey, also emphasizing relevant aspects to which consumers must be particularly attentive. Consumers cannot be diminished in their ability to choose and their rights. On the other hand, companies have a duty to maintain their communications in a transparent and loyal manner, ensuring and reinforcing the trust built with consumers. This document, the result of collaboration between the DGC and the ARP, is especially useful and timely.”
For her part, the Director-General for Consumers, Ana Catarina Fonseca, stated that “The epidemiological situation of COVID 19 has reaffirmed the advantages of institutional cooperation to better empower consumers and economic operators, with this communication action, alongside our inspection activities, one of these examples. In carrying out our duties, we continue to monitor advertising messages in order to ensure compliance with the law and respect for the rights and interests of consumers, in particular, given the moment of ongoing lack of social and economic activity. We invite consumers, operators, and partners to share these Recommendations.”
Nuno Pinto de Magalhães, President of the ARP Board, says that “We know well what the Covid-19 Pandemic has affected us, harboring habits and customs not previously considered. In the case of collation, economic agents also had to readjust to the present circumstances and commercial communication, and advertising par excellence, which ends in the right to information, has been readjusting. Therefore, it is of opportune and undeniable importance to reinforce the role of the ARP in order to prevent recipients about the good principles that govern the content of advertising, through the prior advice that guides the good faith of agents, as is the case of screening verified through previous opinions. The information contained in the brochure comes to caution those who, due to ignorance or mere negligence, violate ethical-legal norms, especially when dealing with a public health issue. A communion of efforts is what we advocate!”