Life is changing dramatically and competition for consumers'
attention becomes more and more intense each day. Producers of
goods and services providers must use numerous artifices and become
more sophisticated to achieve the best results to increase
Professionals believe that typical instruments like classical
advertising do not always work. Consumers' attention should be
attracted by something unusual, unexpected, new, breathtaking.
Provocative advertising became one of those "fresh
It may be of any kind: shocking, thrilling, surprising,
prompting, outrageous, even frightening, and may be distributed
through any communication channels, but should not violate the
The effectiveness of provocative advertising is disputable even
among the specialists. Some believe that provocative advertising
will definitely attract the consumers' attention to the higher
degree and thus promote the main aim – brand recognition and
increase of sales. The opponents believe that provocative
advertising may have the opposite effect: it will distract the
consumer's attention from the mere advertising object or may
even compromise the famous brand.
Despite two controversial points of view with regard to
provocative advertising and the potential risk related to possible
violation of law, provocative advertising remains productive and
widely used by well-known companies.
Russian legislation on advertising provides for some specific
provisions related to provocative advertising.
Use of foul language or anything pornographic in nature is
prohibited. Demonstration of processes of smoking and consumption
of alcoholic beverages is also inadmissible.
The above-described restrictions are mandatory for compliance,
relative law enforcement practices as well as the court practices
are uniform in that respect.
It is, however, different with regard to compliance with the
restriction on the use of obscene and offensive images – this
issue is more complicated from the point of view of compliance due
to the fact that the notions "obscene" and
"offensive" have a subjective-evaluative nature.
It causes difficulties in evaluation of the information as being
"obscene" or "offensive." Some categories of
people may perceive advertising as offense to their honor, human
dignity or feelings, particularly in regards to gender, race,
religion, nationality, profession, social category, or age.
Advertising may be recognized as obscene if contradicting rules or
morality and ethical standards of a particular person, while the
same advertising may not have any negative connotation at all to
Perception of the same information will strongly depend on
various factors. Among others – differences in culture,
religious upbringing, age, level of education, family values.
Russia is a multi-ethnic country and thus, it is easy to imagine
a situation where the same advertising could be viewed
diametrically opposite by different populations.
Taking the above into account, what are those formal criteria
for recognizing provocative advertising offensive or obscene to
eliminate/avoid risks of violating the law on advertising if
provocative advertising is chosen as one of the means for promotion
of goods/services? Strictly speaking, there is no such formal
criteria. The clarifications of the Russian competent authorities
may be a kind of a guidance and it is currently as follows -
perception of the advertising as offensive or obscene by a
significant number of people will be sufficient to consider the
advertising as non-compliant with legislation on advertising.
Historically Russia is a country with rather conservative moral
principles and values, thus the risk of the provocative advertising
being considered illegal is rather high. However, those companies
that consider provocative advertising the best instrument for
promotion of their goods/services confess that the risk is in most
cases justified businesswise.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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