From time to time, I like to remind clients of specific network guidelines to keep in mind when developing advertising. One such guideline involves product demonstrations.
Per the network guidelines, when a commercial demonstrates the attributes of a product, the demonstration must be performed with actual examples of the product as available to consumers, and the results must be accurately represented. The use of mock-ups or enhanced or altered products is not permitted.
- Demonstrations should depict product performance in a way that accurately reflects how the product performs when used by consumers. However, when a demonstration simulates consumer-use conditions (e.g., a laboratory simulation of clogged drains or kitchen countertop grease), the advertiser must:
- Provide clear and convincing evidence that the simulation accurately reflects the product’s performance under actual consumer-use conditions
- Establish the impracticality or impossibility of demonstrating a product’s performance under actual consumer-use conditions
- No demonstration should be presented in a manner that, through artifice or simulation, misleads the audience as to any material fact.
- Producers are required to provide the networks with an affidavit of authenticity for all demonstrations and should be prepared to produce records of the circumstances and results upon request. The affidavit must attest that:
- The demonstration is accurate
- The demonstration was performed with samples of the product available to consumers or prototypes that perform no differently from the actual product
- No mock-ups, modifications or alternations were employed
- Material facts that are essential to a full understanding of the significance of the demonstration (e.g., miles-per-hour, actual time elapsed) must be disclosed.
The networks require that product demonstrations be accurately represented and not be misleading to the consumer. So if you have plans to create advertising that features a product demonstration, make sure your creative complies with the network guidelines. And remember, when in doubt, ask questions. The network editors are there to answer any questions you may have.
Marilyn Colaninno is Director of Rights and Clearances for Reed Smith and is responsible for clearing commercials for the firm’s many clients in the advertising industry. If you have specific questions, please contact Marilyn directly at 212-549-0347 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.