Contest Law: A Few Interesting Recent Questions, Including CASL & Criminal Code

In Canada, “competition law” overlaps with advertising and marketing law. One of the reasons for this is because the federal Competition Act in Canada includes a number of advertising and marketing law sections, including some specific provisions relating to promotional contests. (Though of course contests in Canada can involve a number of other areas of law including: contract law, the Criminal Code, privacy law, intellectual property law and now Canada’s recently in force anti-spam law – CASL.) Based on the Competition Act sections and my own general interest in contests (as well as my contest law site – see: Canadian Contest & Promotions Law), I tend to both work on a lot of contests and receive quite a few contest related questions and calls. For example, a few days ago I received a few new Canadian contest law related questions over the web with a request that I write a … read more »

“Your Product Is Great” (What Was It Again?): Australian Carpet Cleaning Co. Sued for Alleged Fake Reviews, Some Canadian Points

Each morning, before I begin ‘real work’, I usually spend a little time on an Internet sweep of interesting advertising and competition law cases that have developed overnight or come into my inbox. Earlier today an interesting new advertising law enforcement action by the Australian ACCC caught my eye, in which the ACCC has commenced Federal Court proceedings against a carpet cleaning franchisor (Whistle (1979) Pty Ltd. – the franchisor of the “Electrodry” Carpet Cleaning business) for allegedly being involved in posting fake online testimonials. See: ACCC takes action against Electrodry alleging fake testimonials or reviews. The ACCC alleges that Electrodry posted fake testimonials through contractors and either induced, or attempted to induce, franchisees to post fake Internet testimonials contrary to Australian consumer law. Some Key Canadian Testimonial Points Given how common online testimonials and reviews are, and their potential usefulness to businesses of all types, I thought I would … read more »

CASL (Anti-spam Law): A Few Impacts of the New Law as the “Coming Into Force Dust Settles”

After a last minute flurry of inquiries and companies and individuals finalizing preparations to comply, Canada’s new federal anti-spam legislation will at long last (or as dreaded) come into force on July 1st.  So, for companies and individuals that market electronically and haven’t prepared by Tuesday, it will be “pens down” so to speak or risk the rather draconian potential penalties under the new law. I know you’ve all heard a lot about that so I won’t dwell on it here – for some of the key requirements of the new law see: here.  As such, rather than summarize the main requirements of this complex and rather cumbersome new law, I thought I’d highlight a few of what I see as likely major implications. These include: Content marketing & blogs: It seems to me that the new law will mean a renewed value for paper (i.e., that stuff from trees), … read more »

CASL (Anti-spam Law) Update: CRTC Head Outlines CASL Enforcement Priorities

With Canada’s new anti-spam law (CASL) coming into force right around the corner (next week on July 1st) Canadian and international businesses that market to Canadians are finalizing initial CASL compliance preparations (including a flurry of consent request e-mails – which will not be permitted to request consent post-July 1st, unless they fall within the scope of the transition provision of CASL – i.e., are sent to existing business or non-business contacts as defined). Given the significant marketing impacts of the new law and remaining uncertainties about just how the CRTC and other enforcement agencies will approach it, this Economic Club of Canada speech yesterday by the CRTC’s chief Jean-Pierre Blais caught my eye, as it did a number of Canadian journalists covering the growing number of CASL developments: Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais speech on how the CRTC is improving the security and safety of Canadians given at the Economic Club … read more »

What Is Competition Law?: A Few Interesting, Frequent and Important Competition & Advertising Law Questions – Part III

June 26, 2014 Several days ago I posted several short notes discussing a few of the more interesting, frequent and important competition and advertising law questions I’ve received over the past few years (see: here and here). Today I thought I would write one more with a few more “real life” competition/advertising law FAQs – i.e., not hypotheticals worked up by a lawyer but questions I’ve received over the past few years. Like my first several posts, these questions reflect a few different basic (but important) aspects of Canadian competition and advertising laws, as well as the types of files I tend to work on. A Few Interesting, Frequent and Important Competition & Advertising Law Questions – Part III Q: COMPETITION BUREAU INVESTIGATIONS: How does the Competition Bureau discover cases?: I get this question quite a bit. The answer is that the Competition Bureau can decide to start an investigation … read more »

CASL (Anti-spam Law) & Social Media – What’s the Deal With Social?

Over the past several months I’ve begun to increasingly turn my mind both to Canada’s new anti-spam legislation (CASL) and its potential application to social media in particular.  In general, CASL will, once largely in force July 1st, create a mandatory advance express consent regime for commercial electronic messages (CEMs) sent to or from Canadian computer systems. The new law will, among other things, also require that certain “form” (i.e., identification), unsubscribe and record-keeping obligations be met after in force. What remains now, and going forward, is to determine how the new law applies to particular industries and types of electronic marketing.  So, for this post, how do the new CASL rules impact social media? What is the difference between mere blogging and messages sent to an electronic address? Or messages sent via an electronic messaging system? What exemptions from the law altogether or categories of implied consent might apply … read more »

Advertising: How to Differentiate in an Age of Noise?: Truth, Value & Brand: P&G Marketing Head Distills the Essence

We live in an age of exploding ideas and noise. Selling your no doubt very spiffy product is an increasing challenge given the increased (and increasing) number of platforms, messages and voices. Once and a while, however, a clear voice resonates back to why we want to listen and who we want to listen to. In this regard, on my daily media sweep today I thought that recent remarks by Marc Pritchard, Global Brand Building Officer at Procter & Gamble, distilled the essentials of effective marketing to an approach that it is very difficult to argue with in this (as described by Mr. Pritchard) new “Golden Age of Ideas”: First, start with something true. Second, consider why anyone would care (in Mr. Pritchard’s parlance, the “give-a-crap-factor”). Third, make your brand matter, because “there’s no point in starting a conversation that your brand can’t be an authentic part of’. Who am I to argue? … read more »

CASL (Anti-spam Law) & Contests: Five Ways Canada’s New Anti-spam Law May Impact Your Contests/Sweepstakes

As companies and marketers well know by now (or should), Canada’s new federal anti-spam legislation (CASL) will come largely into force on July 1st. The new law will of course impact electronic marketing to Canadians in many sectors and require that marketers consider how they need to comply with CASL both before and after in force. One area, among many others, that CASL will affect is contests/sweepstakes to the extent they use e-mail or other electronic communication (e.g., e-mail entries and follow ups, contests run in connection with surveys, where later electronic marketing is intended, etc.). In this respect, in working on a few contests and similar promotions in the run up to CASL’s coming into force, it has become clear that there are a few (and likely more) key CASL considerations that marketers now need to think about when using e-mail or other electronic communication in conjunction with contest/sweepstakes. … read more »

CRTC Updates CASL (Anti-spam Law) Resources

Canada’s CRTC, one of three federal agencies responsible for administering and enforcing Canada’s new federal anti-spam law (CASL), has updated its “Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation” page to include more CASL background and compliance materials. (CASL comes into force July 1st and also applies to international marketers engaged in electronic marketing to Canadians.) The CRTC’s CASL page now includes the following existing and new resources: Copies of the legislation (CASL) and Regulations. CASL overview video: A short YouTube video on the new anti-spam law (see: here), which discusses the three basic requirements of CASL: (i) consent; (ii) form requirements (i.e., sender identification); and (iii) unsubscribe mechanism. Info-graphic and background discussion on the personal relationship exemption: An info-graphic on the personal relationship exemption from CASL (see: here), including the types of senders/recipients, whether a personal relationship exists (based on factors: sharing interests, experiences, opinions or information), ability to document the relationship if necessary … read more »

CASL (Anti-spam Law) Development: Canadian CRTC Issues New CASL Compliance Guidelines

June 20, 2014 Yesterday, Canada’s CRTC issued new Compliance and Enforcement Guidelines (CRTC Bulletin 2014-326) to assist businesses develop compliance programs to comply with Canada’s upcoming anti-spam law (CASL) and do-not-call list rules. In general, the CRTC’s new Guidelines describe why corporate compliance programs are important and what the CRTC sees as the essential elements of program. Namely: senior management involvement; risk assessment; a written compliance policy; record keeping; training; auditing; and complaint and discipline mechanisms. The CRTC’s position on essential elements for CASL/do-not-call compliance programs are very similar to the Competition Bureau’s view of essential elements for competition law compliance programs. The CRTC notes, however, that compliance policies may vary according to the type of organization, including for small and medium sized businesses. Some of the key points of the CRTC’s new CASL compliance Guidelines include: Senior management support. Like the Competition Bureau’s position on competition law compliance programs, … read more »