Marketing Law and False Advertising: What You Need to Know

by LegalFix
Posted: December 13, 2023
advertising regulations

In today's fast-paced business landscape, the power of effective marketing cannot be underestimated. Yet, with great power comes great responsibility, and that's where marketing law steps in. Today, we’ll take a look at false advertising and how marketing law governs advertising, promotions, and consumer protection. 

What Is Marketing Law?

Marketing law forms the bedrock upon which businesses promote their products and services. It's the set of rules and regulations that ensures fairness, transparency, and honesty in the realm of advertising. Marketing law dictates the dos and don'ts, guiding business practices around reaching potential customers. 

In addition to preventing unscrupulous businesses from gaining an unfair advantage through deceptive advertising practices, marketing law also safeguards consumers by ensuring they receive accurate information to make informed choices. While we’ll be focusing on the false advertising aspects of marketing law today, this legal category encompasses a number of other areas as well, including whether or not you can collect and use customers’ personal information

The Basics of False Advertising

As with most issues, marketing law regulation happens on both a federal and state level. On a national level, two main consumer protection acts stand out: the Lanham Act and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act.

Section 43a of the Lanham Act, which primarily deals with trademark law, enables businesses to sue competitors for false advertising if certain conditions are met. The Act also empowers companies to protect their brand's reputation when competitors make false claims. 

On the other hand, the FTC Act empowers the Federal Trade Commission to regulate and enforce fair advertising practices. This includes cracking down on deceptive advertisements, ensuring consumers aren't misled, and penalizing businesses that fail to toe the line. 

Substantiation and Evidence

In marketing law, substantiation is the process of providing evidence to back up advertising claims. While making eye-catching claims may seem like a winning marketing strategy, legally, if you claim it, you have to be able to prove it. For instance, if you claim your laundry detergent removes 99% of stains, be prepared to provide scientific evidence to support that claim. 

State Consumer Protection Laws

Federal laws are powerful, but the states play a vital role, too. State consumer protection laws work in tandem with federal regulations to curb false advertising. These state-specific laws often mirror federal standards but can sometimes go beyond, providing additional layers of protection for consumers. 

For example, California's stringent consumer protection laws give consumers the right to sue businesses for unfair or deceptive practices, even if no actual harm occurred. Other states may also have their unique statutes and enforcement mechanisms. 

Online Marketing and Celebrity/Influencer Endorsements

Unlike conventional advertising, influencer or celebrity brand collaborations often blur the line between genuine recommendations and paid promotions. Because of this potential ambiguity, marketing law has specific provisions to ensure transparency. 

For example, when promoting products or services, FTC regulations state that influencers and celebrities must disclose any relevant financial arrangements. Whether it's a YouTube video, an Instagram story, or a sponsored tweet, businesses must clearly communicate when a post is a paid promotion. 

Know the Laws with LegalFix

Whether you want to understand marketing law or are looking for more information about how our legal system works, LegalFix is your go-to source for free legal information. You can find helpful articles and use the free search and information tools to better understand the state and federal laws that affect you. Just visit to find all this content — and check back often for more valuable legal products and services coming soon.