COVID-19 has brought unexpected changes affecting all our lives and making our understanding of “normal”, a memory of different times, to which we would like to return, but which we are not certain that will return.
Whether or not you believe this is a conspiracy or even something worthy of the measurements governments are currently taken, what is certain is that advertisement rules still apply.
In Colombia, there are several influencers, in this case an actress, that are promoting goods given the COVID-19 crisis. Each of them is doing it for different industries and purposes. Notwithstanding, the actress ELIZABETH LOAIZA-JUNCA crossed the line.
This woman uploaded a video which showed certain rapid tests for COVID-19. The ad included objective statements such as the following:
- The tests have approval by the health authority.
- The tests will only be sold to authorities, such as, city hall, and to clinics or hospitals.
However, the Health Authority was interviewed by an online publication and declared that the promoted good was neither authorized not registered by them.
Thus, the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce, which is the Consumer Protection authority, requires the actress to provide evidence supporting the claims made during the advertisement, as well as information concerning to the ad per se.
The actress did not respond to the requirement, leaving no other choice to the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce but to initiate an administrative proceeding to sanctions the action done in violation to the Consumer Protection Statute.
To proceed on this regard, the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce, stated the following:
- The Instagram post, consisting on a video, was advertisement, as it was intended to influence the consumer’s decision.
- The advertisement included objective information which requires substantiation.
- The test was neither authorised nor registered by the Health Authority as per the report filed by said authority.
- The alleged limitation to sell exclusively to city hall, and to clinics or hospitals, was not substantiated as, according to direct messaging the only limitation was the quantity of units to be sold (5000).
This, without taking into account that, in Colombia, the advertisement of goods that cannot be sold over-the-counter, such as, medical tests, is forbidden.
Consequently, the actress has the opportunity to defend her advertisement, as this is an administrative proceeding, notwithstanding, given the cumulative evidence against her and the lack of response when it was inquired by the Superintendence of Industry of Commerce, it is highly likely she would be facing a fine of approximately, USD$500,000.
Advertisement should not be taken lightly, less of all when a matter of public interest is the main concern.