It is obvious that some knowledge
of law is necessary for every individual living in a civilised
society. Just as one cannot drive a vehicle on the road without
knowing the traffic rules, in the same manner, no human activity
in general and business activity in particular can be carried on
without all concerned having knowledge of the law which
regulates such activities.
and Ethics fills the
long-felt need of having all the laws concerning advertising in
one single volume. To that extent, it is a pioneering effort in
India, though developed countries have laboured enough in this
area to produce very detailed treatise for their use. The
authors accept in the Introduction of the book that there is
nothing original in it. Indeed, it is a compilation of all the
material available at present on various aspects of advertising.
The first five chapters of the book are brief (38 pages) and are
devoted to general aspects of advertising viz, the power of
advertising, right media for advertising, agencies and brand
managers, future of global advertising and the Indian
advertising scene. Statutory laws in India are covered in
another 10 pages only. These 48 pages of the book are of maximum
use to the Indian advertiser. The book also contains selected
provisions of Hasbury’s laws of England on advertising as also
extracts of American jurisprudence on advertising. The authors
have also included summary of judicial decisions in India,
selected cases decided by the Press Council of India and
judicial decisions in certain other countries.
The chapter on
self-regulations in advertising and codes of Advertising
Standard Council of India (ASCI) is quite interesting.
Regulations differ from country to country creating problems for
firms that desire to globalise their advertising. For example,
MTV Europe can’t show beer ads in Norway. Brazil requires that
all advertisement shown in their country must have some local
content. Australia prohibits all foreign commercials, and direct
comparison advts are not allowed in Austria.
these regulations, a host of issues need to be addressed. One
central issue is definitional — what is deception? There are
other issues as well. How many people need to misunderstand an
advertisement before deception is involved? And when there is
disagreement about what is deception, who should decide? How can
the dishonest and careless advertiser be detected, prosecuted
and punished? To what extent can self-regulation be relied upon?
What are appropriate remedies? There questions and others make
the issue of deception a complex area for an advertiser, the
media and the government. The USA had constituted a special
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act in 1914 for regulating
deceptive advertising. It gives authority both over ‘unfair
methods of competition’ and ‘unfair or deceptive acts or
practices’. FTC considers a marketing effort to be deceptive
if (i) there is a representation, omission, act or practice,
that (ii) is likely to ‘mislead’ consumers acting reasonably
under the circumstances, and, (iii) that representation,
omission, or practice is "material." The term ‘material’
refers to the fact that some deceptive claims are trivial, and
that FTC will not regulate such matters.
The Internet has
emerged as a very powerful advertising media in recent years. It
is estimated that by 2006 online ads will account for Rs 10
billion in India. Though the authors concede the importance of
this form of advertising, there is no mention of cyber laws in
the book. Until recently, there were no cyber laws in India.
Using the Internet was, therefore, without any specific legal
accountability. Since one of the most significant uses of the
Internet advertisement is to conduct commercial transaction,
Information Technology Act, 2000, has made it imperative for the
country to adopt a regime of cyber laws which determine the
rights and liabilities of parties using the Internet for
business or otherwise.
It must be
understood that law & ethics are not coterminous. The law is
confined by limitations on government authority, primarily
through the constitution, while ethics bear no such limitations.
Ethics, therefore, should be subject to a higher standard of
expectations than law.
The book a very
useful reference material for judges, lawyers, researchers and
students. Five appendices of the book spread over 170 pages
contain valuable information which makes the book a must for