Advertising

§ 3 of the Advertising Act provides the basic requirements for advertising. All information to be disclosed, which is treated as advertising within the meaning of the Advertising Act, must comply with the requirements provided in §3 of the Advertising Act.

According to § 3 (1) of the Advertising Act, consumers must clearly understand that the information to be disclosed is advertising.

THE INFORMATION MAY NOT BE DISCLOSED AS PART OF OTHER INFORMATION OR AS PART OF ANY TELEVISION SHOW, OR AS A SO-called hidden ADVERTISING.

Pursuant to § 3 (2) of the Advertising Act, the advertiser's information must be included in the advertisement. This requirement is met if the ad contains at least one of the following:

  • The name of the advertiser;
  • An Estonian or European Community trademark registered by the advertiser;
  • The domain name of the advertiser.

If one advertisement is published in separate stages and the advertisement (s) published as the first stage (s) did not contain the data of the advertiser, then the data of the advertiser must be included in the advertisement no later than on the 15th day from the first stage of the advertisement.

§ 3 (4) of the Advertising Act stipulates the circumstances which advertising may not be. Certainly, advertising must not contradict good manners and practices or other basic requirements arising from social values, legislation, etc. For example, ads with the following content are not eligible:

  • battery advertising showing the disposal of old batteries in the trash,
  • advertisements depicting infant death in a picture or word,
  • advertisements, where persons following the law are called “a threat to Estonia's independence” or are otherwise denigrated.

Also, false information may not be presented in advertisements or, for example, the advertiser may not give an unreasonable impression that the information provided has a scientific basis (§ 3 (4) 11) and § 14 of the Advertising Act). You must always bear in mind that the burden of proving the truth of any advertising claim lies with the advertiser.

Advertising may not claim or give the impression that a good or service has special characteristics if such characteristics are characteristic of all similar goods or services of the same type (§ 3(4)16) of the Advertising Act. The use of claims/phrases with special characteristics in advertisements seeks to sell products to the consumer as having unique characteristics.

Advertising may not refer to the property of a product or service that treats, mitigates, or prevents disease, except in cases provided by law (§3(4)17) of the Advertising Act. This point is intended to adequately inform the consumer about certain characteristics of the goods or services. The ban concerns, for example, the advertising of food and various health products/food supplements, which, in the interests of consumer protection, must not be linked to the prevention, control, alleviation, or treatment of a disease.

THE USE OF MEDICAL INDICATIONS IS generally PERMITTED FOR MEDICINAL PRODUCTS ONLY.

Therefore, ads with the following content, for example, are not acceptable:

  • "A serum that eliminates scars, acne, rosacea," as the serum is not a medicinal product within the meaning of the Medicines Act, but is a cosmetic product.
  • "The dietary supplement Promed helps to prevent cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure," as it is not a medicinal product within the meaning of the Medicines Act, but a food supplement.

On 01.06.2018, amendments entered into force in the Advertising Act, the main purpose of which is to reduce the attractiveness of alcohol advertising and advertising to shape social norms and influence minors, to establish an understanding that consuming alcohol has no negative consequences.

The regulation of alcohol advertising is provided in §28 of the Advertising Act.

Alcohol advertising may contain only the name of the product, its type, name of the producer, trademark, country of origin, geographical area, ethanol content by volume, an image of the sales package, characteristics (color, aroma, taste), serving. This list is exhaustive. Other elements that do not appear in the list may not be included in alcohol advertising. The advertiser must consider the elements permitted in advertising alcohol in conjunction with § 28 (3) of the Advertising Act.

The information contained in alcohol advertising must be product-centered and neutral. Besides, requirements are set for the audiovisual design of alcohol advertising: alcohol advertising must not contain a living being or their image, except for the voice of a person; contain an animated image of a lifeless thing; depict serving alcohol; associate alcohol with an anniversary, event, activity, or season; encourage the purchase or consumption of alcohol; otherwise give the impression that alcohol is a natural part of life and that alcohol has a positive effect; associate alcohol with a vehicle accident; emphasize the high ethanol content as a positive feature of alcohol; imitate the voice of a well-known person or character, as well as a person or character, who is known primarily through a film, television, music or entertainment program or event aimed at children.

The content of alcohol advertising can only be informative. Alcohol advertising is not allowed to tell stories or make alcohol attractive. The information contained in alcohol advertising must be free from any positive image.

ALCOHOL ADVERTISING MUST CONTAIN A WARNING TEXT: “ATTENTION! This is ALCOHOL. ALCOHOL CAN HARM YOUR HEALTH."

The type, size, and color of the message shall be chosen in such a way as to make it visible, intelligible, and clearly distinguishable from other information. Print advertisements shall display the health warning in black text on a white background, and the area of the warning, including the background, shall be at least 20% of the total area of the advertisement.

A list of places where alcohol advertising is prohibited is provided: in a building used by the pre-school, basic school, gymnasium, vocational school, hobby school, youth center, youth association, permanent youth camp and youth project camp; in a building intended for sports, except at the point of sale of alcoholic beverages; in the building of a health and welfare institution; in the building of the Defense Forces, the Defense League and the police; in the building of the detention facility; in the building of a cinema, museum or performance institution, except at the point of sale of alcoholic beverages; in a publication aimed primarily at children and on the pages of the publication which publishes information aimed primarily at children; in a place intended for children to spend their free time; in the television and radio programs from 7.00 to 22.00; on a video cassette, DVD, laser disc or other data carrier offered for sale or rented in a retail service, or on its packaging; on the front and back of a newspaper and magazine and their supplementary publications; outdoor advertising; on social media networks, except on the alcohol handler’s website and on the social media account.

The ban on outdoor advertising also includes street advertising in stores, etc., from buildings' windows. Advertising visible in the shopping center corridor is also considered to be outdoor advertising.

It is permitted to publish alcohol advertising on account of the alcohol handler's own social media that complies with § 28 of the Advertising Act requirements.

Prohibited advertising includes: distributing an alcohol-related object or publication to children; the possibility of obtaining alcohol-free of charge or at a price lower than the normal retail price when the goods or services are offered for sale; when purchasing alcohol, the possibility of obtaining goods or services free of charge or at a price lower than the normal retail price; any consumer game, lottery or competition associated with an alcoholic beverage or a brand of an alcoholic beverage in instructions, descriptions, advertisements or elsewhere; the sharing by an alcohol handler on social media of information created by consumers or containing a call for sharing.

Advertising of a tobacco product or a product intended for the consumption of a tobacco product, a product used similarly to a tobacco product or parts thereof, is prohibited according to § 17 of the Advertising Act.

The regulation of misleading and comparative advertising is provided in §§ 4 and 5 of the Advertising Act. The respective provisions are based on Directive 2006/114/EC of the European Parliament and the Council (hereinafter Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive). You must therefore take the Court's assessment of the rules on misleading and comparative advertising into account.

In the case of misleading advertising, the most important thing is to know that advertising that misleads or is likely to mislead individuals in any way is prohibited. In doing so, it is necessary to assess further whether, due to its misleading nature, such advertising may

  1. affect the economic behavior of the people to whom it is addressed; or
  2. may harm the competitor of the advertiser.
THE REGULATION OF MISLEADING ADVERTISING IS SIMILAR TO THE REGULATION OF MISLEADING TRADING practices.

According to settled case-law, the concept of comparative advertising covers any form of comparative advertising: advertising which refers directly or indirectly to a competitor in the same product market or to goods or services offered by a competitor which meet the same needs or are intended for the same purpose.

There are several different rules for the use of comparisons in advertising. Still, it must be ensured, inter alia, that the comparison is based on one or more relevant and verifiable characteristics of the comparable good or service and is not misleading.

Using social media channels (Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, etc.) to advertise is common for traders today. Increasingly, traders are collaborating with influencers who create content and create ads on their personal social media accounts.

As an influencer, it must be known that all requirements and restrictions arising from the Advertising Act also apply to advertising published on social media. For example, a social media ad must be clearly marked at the beginning so that the person seeing the ad immediately realizes that it is an advertisement. It's a good idea to use the #reklaam hashtag for your ad.

When advertising on social media, be aware that many product groups have strict restrictions. For example, alcohol advertising is only allowed on alcohol handlers' social media accounts (manufacturer, importer, exporter, wholesaler, retailer, and commercial custodian, warehouser, or distributor). This means that an alcohol ad posted by an influencer is a prohibited ad. Advertising is not permitted for the promotion of tobacco and tobacco-related products, such as e-cigarettes and hookahs.

The requirements for advertisements aimed at children are provided in § 8 of the Advertising Act and partly in the Consumer Protection Act (§ 125 (4)).

When advertising in any channel so that it is aimed at children or is interpreted as advertising aimed at children, the requirements for advertising aimed at children must be complied with. The Advertisement Act considers any person who is younger than 18 years of age a child.

When defining advertising aimed at children and the content, it is necessary to assess the advertising (for example, on television between children's programs or on websites for children) and take into account the fact that the child's use in advertising inevitably speaks to other children.

In practice, the most problematic requirement is that advertising prohibits children's solicitation to purchase the advertised good or service or persuade parents or other adults to do so. The assessment of whether or not this is a prohibited address in children's advertisements is always on a case-by-case basis. It must be considered in conjunction with the textual part of the whole context of the advertisement.

It is definitely worth avoiding calls for activities related to purchasing goods/services and references to discounts. It makes sense to make the text of consumer campaigns as neutral as possible and direct it to the parents.

Also, you must consider that a child may be used in advertising only with the prior written consent of his or her legal representative and only if the sale of the advertised goods or provision of services to the child is not prohibited.

Besides, the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority recommends being responsible for advertising energy drinks and consciously avoiding any targeting of children, including children in advertising, as it is not a product suitable for consumption by children of childbearing age.

The requirements for advertising goods and services that are technically complex, contain hazardous substances, and require special skills in use are provided in § 7 of the Advertising Act and the requirements for advertising explosives and pyrotechnic articles in § 20 the Advertising Act.

Advertising is not permitted to promote explosives and pyrotechnic articles that are permitted to be handled only by a person with specialist expertise. As an exception, advertising may occur at the point of sale, at a professional exhibition, at a trade fair, and in a professional publication.

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE CONTENT OF PYROTECHNIC ADVERTISING HAVE CHANGED SINCE 4 JULY 2017.

Advertising of a pyrotechnic article shall comply with the requirements for the advertising of technically complex goods and services containing dangerous substances and requiring special skills in use. It shall draw attention to the need to consider the requirements for conducting the pyrotechnic article in a public place. In the case of advertising a pyrotechnic article that is permitted to be handled by a person with specialist knowledge, it is not necessary to draw attention to the requirements of conduct in a public place.

Advertising of a pyrotechnic article must:

  • include an invitation to read the instructions for use and, if necessary, to consult a specialist;
  • draw attention to the need to consider the requirements for behavior in a public place when using a pyrotechnic article.

Advertising for a technically complex service that involves using dangerous substances or requires special skills in use must include information on the service's dangers. A dangerous service is considered to be within the meaning of the Consumer Protection Act.

ADVERTISING OF GOODS OR SERVICES INTENDED FOR PROFESSIONAL USE ONLY MUST CONTAIN INFORMATION TO THAT.

The law does not prescribe the wording of mandatory information to be added to advertising. It is important to ensure that the mandatory information is presented in a clearly distinguishable and legible font size/observable speed and fulfills the purpose of the law – to provide important information to the consumer. Before using the pyrotechnic article, it is necessary to read the instructions for use, consult a specialist if necessary, and follow the requirements for handling the product in a public place. It is also important for the consumer to know if the pyrotechnic article is intended for professional use only.

The requirements for conducting in a public place are provided in §§ 55 and 56 of the Law Enforcement Act.

Advertising of health care services is prohibited according to § 22 of the Advertising Act. Health care services and health care service providers are considered within the Health Care Services Organization Act's meaning. Artificial insemination is considered within the meaning of the Artificial Insemination and Embryo Protection Act. However, there are some differences between different healthcare ads, i.e., in some cases, it is not healthcare advertising.

The following are not considered advertising of a health care service:

  • information on the name, working hours, address of the business, specialty and name, academic degree and contact details of the health care provider and a list of the health care services provided;
  • the presentation of work in the press by the healthcare provider;
  • an information campaign to find donors.

Advertising of financial services is provided for in § 29 of the Advertising Act. According to § 29 (1) of the Advertising Act, financial service is a service provided to customers by financial supervision entities.

Advertising of a financial service means disclosed information, the purpose of which is, among other things, to increase the sales of a financial service, to create demand and consumer desire for a certain financial service and thereby influence customer behavior, activities, and decisions (so-called sales promotion).

The advertisement for a financial service must include an invitation to familiarize oneself with the terms of the financial service and, if necessary, to consult an expert. Different variations in the submission of a summons are permitted. Still, similarly to the sentence provided in subsection 29 (2) of the Competition Act, both parties must contain the summons simultaneously and bear the form of the summons.

Advertising announcing the willingness to grant consumer credit or mediate consumer credit agreements shall be limited to an invitation to familiarize oneself with the terms of the financial service and, where appropriate, to consult an expert, a model, the creditor, or, where applicable, the credit intermediary. This is an exhaustive list, and any verbal additions are therefore prohibited!

Advertising announcing the willingness to provide a consumer credit or mediate consumer credit agreements must be responsible and balanced. Advertising must not give the impression that taking out consumer credit is a risk-free and easy way to solve financial problems, nor should it encourage consumers to take ill-considered loans. Consumer credit advertising must not emphasize the credit process's speed, forcing the consumer to make an ill-considered credit decision.

Advertising of gambling is provided for in § 292 of the Advertising Act. The rules applicable to the advertising of gambling apply to the advertising of on-site activities. Gambling, including a commercial lottery, a gaming venue, and a gambling operator, is considered within the Gambling Act's meaning.

Gambling ads must include the warning text "Attention! This is a gambling ad. Gambling is not a good way to solve financial problems. Read the rules and act responsibly!”. The warning must be noticeable, intelligible, and clearly distinguishable from other information under normal attention.

Certain places or events have been designated where gambling advertising is permitted (e.g., the gambling operator's website, the place where the gambling is organized, onboard watercraft and aircraft used for international passenger transport, etc.). However, the advertising of gambling advertisements in permitted places must be based on the premise that the information does not include an invitation to participate in or gamble at a gambling venue or information that may give the impression that gambling is in the public interest or reflects social success.

Areas, where certain advertisements are prohibited, are also identified (e.g., advertising for games of skill and lotteries is prohibited in a building, construction, territory and near a pre-school, primary school, upper secondary school, vocational school, hobby school, youth permanent camp, and youth project camp, children's website, mainly before and during television and radio broadcasts aimed at children – look in more detail § 292 (6-8) of the Advertising Act).

Advertising of lotteries are generally prohibited, but the law provides for places where it is permitted (e.g., at a gambling venue; onboard an aircraft used for international passenger services; in an airport and port passenger terminal building; advertising sent by post, e-mail, or telephone, if ordered and delivered by the customer only to the customer's own postal or e-mail address or to the telephone number used by the customer and if the customer has the opportunity to stop transmitting the advertisement at any time by notifying the gambling operator). This is an exhaustive list.

DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION ABOUT A COMMERCIAL LOTTERY IS NOT CONSIDERED AS GAMBLING ADVERTISING.

Thirdly, an advertisement may disclose the trademark of the gambling operator outside the permitted places. At the same time, you must ensure that it meets the conditions provided by law: it does not express in a word or in a picture a game of chance, a place of gambling, or a chance to win.

Last updated: 05.04.2021