AKA Code of Ethics for Sales Promotion
This Code was drafted with the aim of improving the quality of sales promotion as a component of commercial communications. It has been adopted by all national organizations associated in the Promotional Marketing Council, which is part of the European Association of Communications Agencies.
This Code governs the character and execution of marketing tools that provide direct or indirect added value for the purpose of increasing a product’s or service’s appeal to potential consumers.
Among other things, the Code of Ethics relates to forms of sales promotion such as:
- offers of additional gift items (bonuses)
- “free” offers
- distribution of discount vouchers, coupons and samples
- using personalities for sales promotion
- linking charity purposes with sales promotions
- consumer contests and lotteries
The Code is implemented independent of the method of communication or the selected media.
The Code does not relate to contractual relationships between organizers (agencies) and consumers. It is not intended for judging whether an offered product represents good value for the stipulated price or for regulating business conditions.
The Code is intended chiefly for protecting the consumer public; however, it also relates to sales promotion activities aimed at workers in sales networks and to elements of sales promotion that are components of sponsoring.
It is recommended that national associations request agreement and compliance with the Code from all existing and future member agencies creating this form of commercial communications. Violation of the Code is resolved by the national association’s appropriate disciplinary procedure.
All sales promotion activities should be legal, honorest and truthful.
All sales promotion activities must be created with responsibility towards the consumer and society. They must be conducted decently and agreeably, and should be deemed fair and honest to all consumers.
All sales promotion activities shall respect the rules of good ethics in business competition.
Sales promotion activities shall not be created or conducted in a way that would contradict the public interest or that could justly be considered socially undesirable or offensive. They will not contain anything that could incite violent or anti-social behavior, improperness, personal injury or material damage. Nor will they contain anything that violates laws or prompts such violation, or undercuts what is imposed by laws.
The organizers will not offer sales promotion products (advertising and gift items, prizes, samples, etc.) the nature of which could cause offense or which are considered socially unacceptable.
Sales promotion and related communications will neither abuse nor exploit consumer trust, inexperience or lack of knowledge, nor will they misrepresent via equivocalities, ambiguities, exaggerations or preteritions, etc.
The conditions for participation in sales promotion activities must be clear, full, and easily comprehended by consumers. Provided the conditions or rules have a consequences that some consumers can not participate with them or are faced before requests that restrict their decision on participation, it is important to state that in time and clearly so that such circumstances are known to consumers before they bind themselves to anything.
Sales promotion activities shall be created and conducted in a way that respects consumers’ rights to privacy and to protection from harassment. All relevant aspects of the law on personal data protection, valid in the relevant country, must be complied with. Consumers must be informed beforehand particularly when they give consent to their participation being used for publicity or advertising, whether in connection with the ongoing sales promotion or for other occasions.
Sales promotion activities shall be conducted using sufficient resources and under attentive supervision.
The organizers should allow due time for each phase of the sales promotion, starting with informing the sales network and distribution of goods to publicizing the rules and collecting proof of participation to evaluating and announcing the results.
Sales promotion activities should not cause disappointment. It is the organizers’ job to conduct qualified estimates of the probable response and to ask the producer to prepare to satisfy it. Provided goods that were the subject of a special offer are damaged or faulty, they must be replaced or the money returned without delay. When a participant of a sales promotion activity does not obtain the thing that he/she should according to the rules/conditions, the organizers should provide a remedy, in as short as time as possible and without causing the participant any additional expense.
The organizers shall take care to ensure that the sales promotion products (advertising and gift items, prizes, samples, etc.) correspond to high safety, durability and practical use standards.
Sales promotion activities aimed at children or designed to attract children shall be created and realized in a way that does not cause physical, mental or moral injury to children. They must not exploit children’s devotion, gullibility and inexperience.
Organizers shall devote special attention to safety guarantees in order to preclude the risk of injury to consumers, particularly children.
A “free” offer can be used only when the consumer covers only the regular rate of postage, the regular rate for the actual weight or delivery, or the cost of his/her own travel if he/she must retrieve the item in person. It must nevertheless be stated clearly beforehand that these costs will be paid by the consumer. Additional payments, such as those for packaging or processing, must not be demanded.
Offers to try out a product can not be labeled free if the consumer is expected to pay the cost of returning the goods, unless that requirement was distinctly listed in the offer.
Provided the offer is placed directly on the product and repeated purchase is a condition of the offered advantage, that condition must be clearly and distinctly presented. Provided the offer contains two products and one of them is free, it must be obvious to the consumer which of them he/she is paying for and which he/she is obtaining for free.
Provided unsolicited samples or gift items are distributed under the framework of sales promotion, it must be obvious that the consumer will not be required to pay for them or return them.
Sales promotion activities with the offer of one or more prizes must be formulated comprehensibly and must contain all the information that is relevant from the perspective of the consumer’s interest. Provided it is necessary to refer contenders elsewhere for other rules, they must be informed of how to familiarize themselves with them.
Organizers of this type of sales promotion shall ensure that the details of the winners of the main prizes—their names (alternatively only surnames) and region—are published or at least made available upon request. In so doing, the organizers must keep in mind the risk of theft or harassment that could arise if providing the details would enable identification of the addresses of winners of prizes with greater values. The prizes should be delivered to the winners in a reasonable period of time.
Provided the selection of winners is the result of subjective judgment, an independent judge or commission, with at least one member who is independent of the producers, organizers and other collaborating partners, must be named.
The difference between a prize and a gift should always be evident to consumers, and the likelihood of winning should not be exaggerated.
Links with Mass Media
Sales promotion activities linked with mass media, for example, the daily press, shall be created and conducted in a manner that makes it easily distinguishable from news/editorial materials.
Provided the need for repeated purchases of additional issues of some periodical arises from the sales promotion concept, the accompanying communications must distinctly point that out to consumers.
Links with Charity
In the event participation in sales promotion activities is meant to benefit a charity organization or charity concern, the organizers must identify the organization or charity concern and state the nature and intended value of the promised benefit, and they also must demonstrate that they are doing so with the consent of the given charity organization or the initiators of the charity concern. The organizers are required to publicize the current or final result upon request.
Targeting a Sales Network
Sales promotion activities and motivational programs can not be created and conducted with consideration for the interests of only one group of involved parties. It must not lead to a conflict between employees and their job responsibilities to their employers, nor jeopardize a seller’s responsibility to provide the consumers honest counsel.
Based on EACA recommendations, the national association, i.e., the AKA, shall set up an arbitration commission that will decide in the event of disputes caused by sales promotion activities whose organizers are member agencies, regardless of whether they are representatives of the consumer public, suppliers or other involved parties.