Advertisements are regulated in Turkish Law under Law on Consumer Protection, No. 4077 ("Consumer Law") and the Regulation on Principles and Application Essentials Regarding Commercial Advertisements and Announcements ("Advertising Regulation"). Pursuant to the Consumer Law, advertisements and announcements shall comply with the law; principles adopted by the Advertisement Board, general moral values, public order, personal rights and shall be correct. Consumer Law also sets forth that the advertisers are required to prove the material claims referred in the advertisement or the announcement.
The competent authority that inspects the compliance of advertisements is the Advertisement Board, which operates under the Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade. The Advertisement Board does not only consider the Consumer Law's provisions in its decisions but also takes into consideration the provisions of the other applicable legislation, such as Regulation on Promotional Activities of Human Medicinal Products, Law on Prevention of Hazards of Tobacco Products, Cosmetic Regulation, Turkish Food Codex Regulation on Labelling. These regulations contain special provisions for advertisements of certain product groups, such as health products, tobacco products, herbal products, cosmetics etc.
Recently, the borderline category has been abolished by the Regulation on Herbal Medicinal Products. After this abolishment, the advertisements of herbal products, cosmetics and foods are increased in importance, whereas the borderline products shall be regarded as OTC, herbal medicinal product, biocidal product, cosmetic or foods supplement. Therefore we explain below the advertisement of the products falling under such categories:
The advertisement of cosmetic products is regulated under the Cosmetic Regulation which stipulates parallel provisions with the consumer protection legislation mentioned above. On August 29th, 2012, General Directorate of Pharmaceuticals and Pharmacy of the Ministry of Health of Turkey ("MoH") published "Guidelines on Advertisement of Cosmetic Products" which stipulates detailed provisions. The Guidelines repeat the main principle that advertisements and packages of cosmetic products should be correct and truthful. Packages and labelling, which are deceptive, misleading, harmful to public health are prohibited. Furthermore, in an advertisement it should not be claimed that a cosmetic product treats a disease or has the effects of a pharmaceutical product.
MoH also published an announcement that prohibits the term "antibacterial" in advertisement of cosmetic products and allows its use in advertisements of biocidal products on August 24th, 2010. The Advertisement Board strictly follows this rule and in this regard it solely reviews use of the expression "antibacterial" and the content of the advertisement is not considered.
It is observed that the Advertisement Board is particularly sensitive on cosmetic product advertisements, especially when statistics are used in the advertisement. The Advertisement Board strictly applies that if the accuracy of the information provided in the advertisement cannot be proven; such advertisement would be considered misleading. Moreover, precise expressions such as "100% success", "first in the world" need to be soundly evidenced. Especially, the terms as "natural" and "organic" in advertisement should be evidenced as stated in the "Guideline on the Natural and Organic Cosmetic Products Claims".
Furthermore, the Advertisement Board states that the cosmetic products have temporary effects when the permanent effects are provided by the pharmaceutical products. If an advertisement of cosmetic product contains a claim as "permanent effect", the Advertisement Board may impose an administrative fine.
The advertisement of foods and also food supplements is regulated under the Law on Veterinary Services, Plant Health, Food and Feed and Turkish Food Codex Regulation on Labelling ("Food Regulation"). The provisions of the Consumer Law and the Advertisement Regulation are also applicable for foods.
Pursuant to the Food Regulation, an advertisement should not state that the food has the effects of a pharmaceutical product and treats a disease. However, health claims can be used if certain conditions listed in the Food Regulation are met. These conditions are related to content of the foods as "alcohol content should not be more than 1,2 %". The Food Regulation also lists the health claims prohibited for the foods. These prohibited health claims are listed below:
- The claims state that "if the food is not consumed, your health shall be effected negatively"
- The claims contain quantities or rate of weight loss
- The claims refer to declarations of doctors or health care professionals
- Except the situations permitted by the Ministry; the claims refer to recommendations of trade bodies related to medicine, nutrition or dietetic and non-profit organisations related to medicine
The Advertisement Board also seems to be sensitive on food advertisements and carefully analyses each of the claims used in advertisements. For instance, the claims "100% natural" and "Turkey's first and only pudding that is 100% natural" were concluded misleading for the consumers.
In a conclusion, upon complaint or ex-officio, the Advertisement Board reviews all advertisements, especially advertisements of consumer goods. We estimate that the sensitivity for the consumer goods shall be increasing due to abolishment of the borderline category. In this regard, companies operating in this sector should take the legislation and the Advertisement Board's decisions into consideration to avoid facing any administrative fine.
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.