Misleading fine print in advertisements

June 20, 2014

123RF_Business OwnerThe High Court has reinforced the importance for businesses in taking care when advertising their products and services so that there is no misleading fine print.

In June 2012 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was successful in obtaining orders in the Federal Court penalising TPG for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct in their advertisements by putting important information in the fine print.

Businesses should consider implementing a four-step process for determining whether an advertisement is misleading:

1. Identify the ‘dominant message’ or ‘headline claim’ of the advertisement
2. Determine whether the dominant message, without any qualification, conveys a misleading impression
3. If it would be misleading, identify whether the advertisement also contains any qualification or condition which corrects the misleading impression given by the dominant message
4. Consider whether the qualification or condition is given sufficient prominence in the advertisement so that an ordinary and reasonable consumer would notice the qualification and be disabused of the misleading impression from the dominant message.


The final step requires people to use their own common sense and judgement in determining whether the advertisement is misleading.

When the High Court considers misleading conduct it takes into consideration a variety of factors, including:

• the extent to which the ‘dominant message’ is misleading
• the nature of the product being advertised
• the nature of the target audience of the advertisement
• the medium in which the advertisement is placed


Our accountants are at hand to deal with any questions or queries you may have regarding this article.
Call (02) 4926 2300 or email us.



To discuss your marketing strategies and misleading fine print in advertisements please contact Leenane Templeton and have a chat to our Business Management Advisor. 

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