Home / Doing business in Russia 2020 / Advertising issues / Violations of the Advertising Law
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  5. Customs regulations
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  9. Personal data protection
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  10. Intellectual property
    1. General approach
    2. Contractual aspects of intellectual property rights
    3. Rights over the results of intellectual activity
    4. Company names, trade names, trademarks and appellations of origin
    5. Intellectual property rights infringements
    6. IP Court
  11. Advertising issues
    1. General approach
    2. Scope of application of the Advertising Law
    3. Violations of the Advertising Law
    4. Liability
  12. Anti-corruption and compliance
    1. General approach
    2. Legal framework
    3. Compliance requirements for companies
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    7. Example of sector-specific anti-corruption measures
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  15. Import substitution and production localisation in Russia
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    5. PSAs

Violations of the Advertising Law

General requirements

Advertising must be fair and accurate. Misleading and unfair advertising is not allowed.

Misleading advertising

Advertising will be deemed misleading by the FAS if it contains certain untrue statements on advertised products, including with regard to:

  • a comparison of their advantages over those of competitors;
  • their characteristics, including their nature, composition, method and date of manufacture, purpose and consumer features;
  • their price and other conditions of purchase;
  • official or public recognition of those products, including reference to any medals, prizes, diplomas or other awards;
  • their endorsement by individuals or legal entities; 
  • the results of research and testing; or
  • additional rights or advantages purchasers would obtain if they buy the advertised product.
Comparisons with competitors

Comparisons with competitors are generally allowed provided they are not unfair or misleading. 

The advertiser is equally liable for the accuracy of information relating to its goods as well as goods of its competitors which are referenced in the advertisement.

Comparisons based on disparate criteria or incomplete comparisons of goods are prohibited, as this distorts the overall impression given by the advertised goods.
Moreover, advertising must not defame the honour, dignity or business reputation of a competitor.

If expressions such as “No. 1”, “best”, “first” are used, the criterion used for the comparison must be stated, and supporting documents (e.g. market research studies, surveys) must be referred to. 

Lack of essential information

Advertising must not omit any essential information on advertised goods (including conditions for their purchase or use) if this would mislead consumers.

The general approach is that all essential information should be described in the key message of the advertisement; however, disclaimers and footnotes are permissible. A disclaimer must be of sufficient size to be clearly readable by consumers, and the print must have a reasonable degree of contrast between the background and the printed text.

Ethical aspects
Advertising must not be offensive (with regard to gender, nationality, race, social category, age, language, cultural properties, etc.). Using swear words or obscene and abusive images is also prohibited. 
Consent
Advertising must not be offensive (with regard to gender, nationality, race, social category, age, language, cultural properties, etc.). Using swear words or obscene and abusive images is also prohibited. 
Language

Advertisers must not send spam emails,
SMS and other digital advertising
messages to consumers without their
consent.

Surrogate advertising

Surrogate advertising is prohibited. This is a form of advertising used to promote goods which cannot be advertised by law under the guise of other goods.

Unfair competition

Any advertising which represents unfair competition under the Competition Law (Please see the Anti-monopoly issues chapter) is recognised as unfair.

Use of the image of a doctor

It is forbidden to use images of doctors and pharmacists in advertising. The exception is advertising which is (i) distributed only among doctors and pharmacists; (ii) distributed in venues of medical or pharmaceutical exhibitions, seminars, conferences and other similar events; or (iii) placed in print publications intended for doctors and pharmacists.

Special provisions

Prohibited goods in Russia

The following must not be advertised:

  • goods that it is forbidden to manufacture or sell;
  • narcotics and psychotropic substances (including the plants and parts used in the development of such substances);
  • explosive compounds and materials, except for pyrotechnic products;
  • body organs or human tissue as an object for sale or purchase;
  • unregistered goods that are subject to state registration;
  • goods that have not obtained any mandatory certification or confirmation of compliance with technical regulations;
  • goods that have not obtained any necessary licence or other special permission for their manufacture or sale;
  • tobacco, tobacco products and smoking accessories, including pipes, hookahs, cigarette paper and lighters;
  • medical services for abortions; and
  • drafting services for graduation theses or other qualification works required to pass educational exams.
Protection of minors

Advertising must not:

  • discredit parents and teachers;
  • undermine confidence in minors;
  • incite minors to persuade parents or other persons to purchase the advertised goods;
  • create a false impression that the advertised goods are available to a family with any level of income;
  • create the impression among minors that having the advertised goods would accord them a preferable position in relation to their peers;
  • induce an inferiority complex in minors who do not have the advertised goods;
  • portray minors in dangerous situations, including cases that may prompt them to commit acts that pose a threat to their life or health; 
  • underestimate the level of skills necessary to use the advertised goods; or
  • give rise to an inferiority complex in minors associated with their physical appearance.

Advertising of certain goods (e.g. alcohol, medicines, gambling) must not be addressed to minors.

Distance selling of goods

Advertisements of goods sold remotely must contain information in relation to the seller, including its name, registration number and registered address. 

Promotional competitions

Advertising of any promotional competition must include: 

  • the date(s) of the competition; and
  • information on the competition’s organiser, its rules, the number of prizes or winnings, its location, its timing and how any prize can be obtained.
Sponsorship advertising

Sponsorship advertising must disclose the name of the sponsor. 
Sponsorship in television programmes must not exceed 20% of broadcasting time per hour and 15% of broadcasting time per day.

Alcohol

Advertisements of alcoholic beverages must not:

  • contain a statement that consuming alcoholic beverages is important to achieve public recognition, professional, athletic or personal success, or to help improve physical or emotional state;
  • criticise abstention from alcohol;
  • state that alcohol is safe or helpful for health;
  • represent alcohol as a way to satisfy thirst;
  • address minors; or
  • use images of humans or animals, including animated ones.

Advertisements of alcohol must not be published:

  • in the press (with an exception for beer and beer-based beverages and Russian-produced wine, which can be advertised in the press except on the first or last pages, or on covers); 
  • in print media, audio and video broadcasts or recordings intended for minors;
  • on television or radio (except for (i) sport events broadcasting under specific conditions; and (ii) Russian-produced wine);
  • on transport vehicles;
  • in or near educational, medical or certain other institutions including libraries, theatres and concert halls; or
  • online.

Promotional campaigns related to alcohol may only be held in certain authorised places (e.g. in shops where alcohol is sold). 

Permitted alcohol advertising must be accompanied by a warning about the dangers of excessive consumption. Such a warning must take at least 10% of the advertising space.

Medicines and medical services

Advertisements of medicines and medical services1  must not:

  • address minors;
  • refer to specific cases of persons being cured, or the improvement of health, as a result of the use of the advertised medicines;
  • contain an expression of gratitude by individuals pertaining to use of the advertised medicines;
  • give the impression that the advertised medicines have advantages by referring to the fact that research which is compulsory for the state registration of the advertised medicines has been completed (e.g. clinical trials, bioequivalence study); 
  • contain statements or assumptions that certain diseases or health disorders exist;
  • create an impression that healthy persons need to use the advertised medicines;
  • create an impression that it is unnecessary to visit a doctor;
  • guarantee that the advertised medicines have a positive effect, are safe, effective and have no side effects;
  • present the advertised medicines as biologically active dietary supplements and food supplements or other non-medicinal products; or
  • contain statements that the safety or effectiveness of the advertised medicines is guaranteed because it is natural.

Advertisements of medicines and medical services must also contain the following disclaimer: “There are contraindications. Please read the instruction or consult a specialist”. 

There are also requirements for the size and duration of any disclaimers used in the advertisements of medicines and medical services:

  • Disclaimers used in radio programmes must be at least three seconds.
  • Disclaimers used in TV shows, films or online videos must be at least five seconds and comprise at least 7% of the frame area.
  • Disclaimers used in any other distribution methods, including online, must comprise at least 5% of the advertising space.

In 2018, the FAS approved the Recommendations on Advertising of OTC Medicines. In particular:

  • It contains an exhaustive list of words and expressions that are acceptable or unacceptable in pharmaceutical advertising. 
  • In deciding whether an advertisement guarantees the effectiveness of the medicine, the entire content should be considered (e.g. in video advertising, the text and the visual imagery should be analysed).
  • The use of words such as “quickly” or “fast action” to characterise the therapeutic effect of a medicine is prohibited.
Biologically active dietary supplements and food supplements

Advertisements of biologically active dietary supplements and food supplements must not:

  • give the impression that the advertised goods are medicines and have medicinal features;
  • contain references to specific cases of persons being cured or the improvement of health;
  • contain an expression of gratitude by individuals;
  • suggest that such supplements are a substitute for a healthy diet;
  • give the impression that using these goods is beneficial by referring to the fact that research which is compulsory for the state registration of the advertised supplements has been completed, or by using the results of another research as a direct recommendation to consume supplements.

Advertisements of such supplements must also contain the following disclaimer:
A food supplement is not a medicine”. 

There are also requirements for the size and duration of any disclaimers used in the advertisements of supplements:

  • Disclaimers used in radio programmes must be at least three seconds.
  • Disclaimers used in TV shows and films must be at least five seconds and comprise at least 7% of the frame area.
  • Disclaimers used in other distribution methods must comprise at least 10% of the advertising space.
Gambling

Gambling advertisements must not:

  • address minors;
  • make an impression that gambling is a way of generating earnings or other income;
  • contain statements that overestimate the chance of winning or underestimate the risk of losing;
  • have any reference to winners that did not receive an award;
  • contain statements that gambling is important to achieve public recognition, professional, athletic or personal success;
  • criticise non-participation in gambling;
  • give the impression of guaranteed wins; or
  • use images of humans or animals.

Gambling advertisements must state:

  • the prize drawing timeframes; and
  • information on the organiser, as well as on the rules, prizes, location and how prizes are obtained. 

Gambling advertisements may only be distributed in particular sources (e.g. in the media and on websites specialising in sports). 

Financial services and products

Advertisements of banking, insurance and other financial services and financial products must contain the name of the company or individual providing such services or products.

An advertisement must not:

  • contain any guarantees or promises of future profitability;
  • omit conditions for the provision of the relevant services which would affect the amount of income received, or the expenses incurred, by those using the services.

Advertisements related to the provision of a loan must disclose all conditions pertaining to the use and repayment of the loan so that the total cost of the loan is determinable.

The Advertising Law sets forth specific provisions on the disclosure of information in advertisements related to securities, real estate investments and other financial services.

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[1] The use of the word “medicine” includes “medical services”. Back ↑


Key contacts

Anton Bankovskiy
Anton Bankovskiy
Partner
Head of Intellectual Property
T +7 495 786 40 63