A marketing campaign, especially the one in the field of healthcare, is associated with several legal issues. Some of them can be avoided by excluding deceptive techniques or assuring none of the adopted existing ones can be recognized as unfair. Others, such as privacy issues and violations of advertisement standards, as well as some online-based marketing methods, require extra attention to avoid disruption of marketing integrity.
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The broadest field of marketing issues, which is also strongly associated with the healthcare field, is unfair marketing. This term includes deliberately misleading claims as well as those who are technically true but are presented in a way that distorts the image in favor of the seller (Australian Government 12).
One of the issues which are likely to occur given the available information is the inclusion of premium claims in the marketing campaign. A premium claim is a suggestion that creates the image of the product or service being conclusively superior to its competitors. As the description includes the phrase “state of the art gym,” which suggests the equipment of unprecedented quality, it is possible that at least some customers will make a decision to use its services based upon such understanding. While the current wording is not enough to classify it as a violation, it can be ruled out as such, depending on the contextual clues (Corones 189).
Another issue often faced by the healthcare and fitness industries is the deliberate or unintentional use of unsubstantiated claims in describing the benefits of the program. For instance, the description of services may include the phrases “the best abs in just two weeks – guaranteed.” First, the word “guaranteed” is prone to misinterpretation: while the results obviously depend on the human factor, such as the persistence of the customers, the wording of the advertisement will likely be ruled out as deceptive regardless of the actual warranties and liabilities included in the contract.
Second, the phrase “best abs” needs to be substantiated by the relevant research which conclusively shows the advantages of a certain business program over competing ones. Importantly, the misleading does not need to be deliberate to be categorized as deceptive marketing, so additional caution needs to be exercised in word choice (Australian Government 14).
The Internet, which has recently become an important marketing platform, but introduced an additional layer of complexity. First, the information situated on the official page of the company is considered representative of the quality of the product or service, regardless of the source it comes from. In other words, if a satisfied customer sends feedback praising the gym as “the best place in Australia,” his assertion will have the same weight as the “best abs” claim described above, based on the fact of its location (ACCC par. 2).
To avoid the prosecution for such claims, the online resources either need to be limited to internal publications or must introduce moderation to filter the unsubstantiated claims. The former restricts the useful feedback which improves the company’s reputation while the latter requires significant resource and time investments, especially after the service obtains enough online followers.
Moderation introduces another issue – that of objective treatment. If the process is biased towards favorable reviews while the negative feedback gets deleted more frequently, such a process will also fall under the unfair marketing category. Naturally, the creation or alteration of existing feedback to create a more appealing image also falls within this category (ACCC par. 4). All of the above makes the Internet a far more demanding segment of the marketing campaign.
The improperly conceived customer agreements may also become an issue. Parts 2 and 3 of the ACL list the most common characteristics of the unfair contract, such as the lack of liability for negligence, the possibility to withdraw payments from the customer’s bank account without prior notice, and the consumer liabilities for aspects not controlled by them, among others (Australian Government 13). For instance, if the contract contains the possibility of increasing the fee, proper notification and damage compensation mechanisms must be included. Otherwise, such a contract can not be considered binding.
Finally, a number of possible issues may arise depending on the advertisement strategies chosen by the management. For instance, if the company decides to issue research, the data collected from the customers need to be protected from possible leakages and unauthorized use. Besides, according to the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010, all of the participants need to be informed about the intentions of the researchers as well as the possible risks connected to the data preservation and processing (“Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010” par. 19).
In the case when the electronic means of advertisement is preferred by the company, the technique should be conceived with the Australian Spam Act 2003 in mind. Spam in its explicit form is outlawed in Australia, so the management needs to pay special attention for its advertising materials to fall under this category (ACMA par. 3). Similarly, the telemarketing practices are currently ineffective, mostly due to the existence of the Do-Not-Call Register. Similarly, door to door sales is discouraged both by the legal restrictions and the growing public resentment (“Competition and Consumer Act 2010” par. 28).
To conclude, the management must execute caution in establishing the marketing and advertising techniques to secure legal integrity and to foster favorable reputation and exclude misunderstanding.
ACCC. Firm Fined for Testimonials by Facebook “Fans” and Tweeters, 2011. Web.
ACMA. Spam Act 2003 FAQs, 2016. Web.
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Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010, 2014. Web.
Australian Government. The Australian Consumer Law – A Framework Overview, 2013. Web.
Competition and Consumer Act 2010, 2013. Web.
Corones, Stephen. “Misleading premium claims.” Australian Business Law Review 44.3 (2016): 188-203. Print.