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Expert Insight into Advertising Law – Susanna Norelid Interviewed in Lawyer Monthly Magazine

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2016.01.12

Advertising Law is a far-reaching practice area affecting several different subjects. To find out just what is involved in Advertising Law and the issues that surround it, Lawyer Monthly speaks to Susanna Norelid, co-founder and managing partner of Advokatfirman NorelidHolm in Stockholm, Sweden. Susanna specializes in particular in corporate and commercial law, media- and marketing law, as well as all forms of dispute resolution including litigations and arbitrations. NorelidHolm is a corporate law firm which offers premium quality legal services. They offer legal assistance in most fields of business law and is top-ranked within several areas of law. The firm represents both multinational and larger national companies as well as smaller local businesses and many of its clients are industry leaders in their respective fields.

Q: How much of your workload is occupied with advising on matters related to advertising?

Approximately 40% of my workload is concentrated on advertising and marketing law, incl. data protection and IP issues. However, we see a trend that more and more questions raised by our clients are in one way or another related to their sale and marketing activities (e-commerce, IT/Media related issues, advertising through social media, personal data issues etc). We therefore expect an increase regarding this business area in the future.

Q: How drastically has the field of advertising law altered since as the internet, and especially social media, increasingly takes over modern life?

It has changed quite dramatically. Nowadays online advertising isn´t limited to search engines and websites like they used to be. Some ten years ago businesses could reach their audience based on keywords they used frequently or websites they visited often. Businesses can now reach a much broader audience through targeting, and even retargeting, them with adverts through platforms. This raises a lot of legal issues of course and especially all issues relating to personal data protection and liability issues.
Furthermore, the use of social media as a marketing channel also trigger a lot of other legal issues like for example, copy right issues, issues relating to another person’s name and picture, bloggers content (is it advertising or not?) etc.

Q: What unique legal challenges does advertising on social media bring? How do you overcome them?

There are a lot of pitfalls when marketing through social media. The channels are quick, fast, easy accessible and reaches so many recipients but it also means a risk of lack of control increase in legal risk and liability. These issues can be for example contractual concerns; (usually in the form of privacy policies, terms of use, licensing agreements etc), publisher´s liability issues; cross border issues, i.e. different national rules trigger different legal issues to take into consideration etc.

We see more and more clients asking for copy clearance when it comes to webpages, advertising content and layouts etc. Most of our clients are marketing their products/services cross border which means that we have to set up international networks of specialists to meet our clients demand.

We also are more frequently asked to provide legal clearance of privacy policies and drafting content (legal texts, disclaimers etc). The companies seem to beware of some of the risks which give them a reason to ask for advice from specialists. We can then see other risks and other issues to take into consideration and assist them to make sure all legal aspects are looked into. We also offer a lot of training for advertising firms, marketing departments and others so that they become more aware of the risks and when to ask for legal assistance. We usually say that they do not need to be specialists themselves but we do want them to know when there is a red flag and know when to look for professional legal assistance.

Finally, we experience that with the advertising on social media, you – as a legal adviser – need to be really specialized and professional within your field. Historically it was not that many issues to take into consideration. It was enough to look for misleading statements and maybe some violations of IP rights. Today, you really need to be up to date with many different legal areas of law but you also need to understand some of the technical parts and have the ability to work cross border. Advertising law is not local any longer.

Q: Sweden famously banned adverts aimed at children; with many people saying that it would not work. In your opinion has it been effective?

Yes I think so. We see a quite strict compliance with the rules even though there are always some exceptions. The non-compliance cases are usually found in connection with computer games directed towards children.

Q: Your firm offers ´multi-faceted´ assistance to clients; in relation to advertising campaigns how does it do this?

We assist our clients´ in copy clearance of advertising campaigns, including online channels and of course also more traditional channels. With that said – and as explained above – nowadays the advertising through social media triggers so many other issues than just marketing law issues. We have to look into contractual issues, liability issues, data protection, IP questions and so on. You cannot just be a marketing law specialist today when dealing with these kind of clients. You need a lot more legal skills and also – preferably – some technical skills too to be able to understand this legal world.

Q: What did you find most rewarding about working on advertising law issues?

There are always new challenges, new ideas and new technology to take into consideration and learn about. There are always very creative and energetic people to work with to find the best solution which meets both the wishes from the client but also to make it in compliance with the rules. It is never boring! Always challenging!

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The interview may be found Lawyer Monthly Magazine, issue 68-15, which may be accessed online at http://www.lawyer-monthly.com/magazine/LM68-15/