1999 Forecast: A Year of Red Flags for Advertisers

For advertisers and marketers, tensions in 1999 will build to an explosion in 2000, with stemming from electronic marketing, the Internet and global advertising.

According to Hall Dickler Kent Friedman & Wood LLP’s annual ADLAW predictions, globalization will cause unforeseen problems.

“We expect the European Community to determine how its strict rules on privacy can be enforced against operators of sites in the U.S., where privacy laws are far more relaxed,” said Douglas J. Wood, executive partner. “Looks like a showdown between the U.S. ‘hands off’ policy versus the EU’s very paternal approach.”

The report predicts the FTC will implement regulations under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, while the Direct Marketing Association continues to push for self-regulation for adult privacy rights on the Internet.

“These regulations appear to deal solely with the Internet, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security,” Wood said. “Most of the seeds being planted are highly restrictive and could spill over into most forms of direct marketing and database collections.”

Wood also said that new Internet entrepreneurs are “playing with fire as they ignore local laws governing the advertising and sale of their products.” Everything from violating use of words like “new,” “sale,” or “guarantee,” to more serious problems such as “failing to deliver within 30 days,” is under fire, he said. Would-be Internet millionaires will be exposed to potentially crushing fines and regulatory scrutiny.”

Other Hall Dickler predictions:

  • Marketing to children may be banned in Europe this year when the representative from Sweden prepares to assume the presidency of the European Union in 2000. “Sweden, long an outspoken opponent of children’s advertising, has already drafted a plan to at least partially ban such marketing efforts,” said Linda Goldstein, head of Hall Dickler’s Advertising, Marketing and New Media practice. “If Sweden succeeds, what’s next?”
  • The much anticipated availability of new top level domains to compete with “.com,” “.net” and “.org” failed to be approved for yet another year. “Don’t expect to see any in 1999, either,” said Wood. “More than a dozen special interest groups around the world are fighting over who will run the Internet in the next millennium. No one seems able to agree, and for the marketer, it means that “.com” is still the only game in town.”
  • “1999 will appear to be the calm before the storm,” said Wood. “But don’t be fooled. The Internet is proving to be a minefield for advertisers and marketers and the FTC has demonstrated it should be taken seriously. Watch closely, get informed and get involved.”

      Hall Dickler is a full service law firm which has specialized in advertising, marketing and promotion law for 50 years.

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