ADVERTISEMENTS WITH SUSTAINABILITY APPEAL SHALL OBSERVE CONAR´S NEW RULES
Author: Juliana Stangherlin, Veirano Advogados
Since August 1st, 2011, new rules issued by the National Council on Advertisement Self-Regulation - CONAR concerning ads that contain sustainability appeals are in force and apply to all kinds of media.
CONAR has reviewed the provisions of the Brazilian Code on Advertisement Self-Regulation. In addition to fighting ads that encourage environmental pollution and degradation, the Code now provides that advertising shall reflect the advertiser's responsibility towards the environment and the sustainability. Thus, it will be necessary to observe certain principles such as correctness, accuracy and clarity, evidence and sources, relevance and importance, among others.
To comply with the new principles established by CONAR, the information contained within ads that are linked to sustainability issues shall match the actual practices adopted by advertisers and shall be capable of verification. Such information shall be presented clearly, accurately and in understandable language, so as not to cause misinterpretation or false conclusions by consumers. Furthermore, communicated information and social and environmental benefits shall be logically related to the company's products and services and shall be significant in relation to the overall impact they have on society and on the environment, covering the entire process and cycle. One should not spread as a social and environmental benefit the mere compliance with laws and regulations to which the advertiser is obligated. Moreover, ads cannot proclaim absolute promises or advantages intending to convey the idea that social and environmental impacts are entirely offset by the company's actions. Finally, advertising shall make explicit the causes and official entities that are partners of the company and cannot refer to causes, movements and performance indicators, nor to appropriate of the prestige of other institutions in an unauthorized manner.
These amendments seek to prevent the sustainability issue from being trivialized. The idea is to restrain the praise of practices, products and services that cannot be proven to be sustainable.
According to the Brazilian Code on Advertisement Self-Regulation, the advertiser and the advertising agency, as well as the owner of the medium through which the announcement is released, are responsible for complying with the rules of the Code.
Those who break the rules are subject to penalties such as warnings; recommendation for ad's amendment or correction; recommendation to the medium through which the announcement is released for the suspension of the advertisement; and the dissemination of CONAR's position concerning the non-compliance of the rules.
It is worth noting that the Consumer Defense Code also prohibits misleading or abusive advertising. Moreover, the Code provides that the suppliers shall keep factual, technical and scientific documentation which support the information it publishes, in order to present to those interested.
Administrative penalties may be imposed on violators of the Consumer Defense Code. Regarding misleading or abusive advertising, the advertiser may be forced to publish counterpropaganda, in order to offset the harm caused by the misleading or abusive advertising. The Consumer Defense Code also provides for criminal penalties for those who omit information on the dangerousness or harmfulness of products in advertising, as well as for those who make or promote misleading or abusive advertising and fail to organize factual, technical and scientific documentation which support the published information.
Finally, it should be emphasized that it is important that companies spread their environmental actions, what shall be done in accordance with the new rules established by CONAR, along with the existing ones, especially those provided by the Consumer Defense Code.
 Misleading advertising is any information or communication which is wholly or partially false or, by any manner, even by omission, may lead consumers to incorrect conclusions concerning products and services.
 Abusive advertising are those which violates environmental values, those which may induce the consumer to behave in a harmful or dangerous way to their health or safety, among others.