Advertisements play a central role in today's commercial world, both for the companies engaged with the advertising sector and their effects and impact on consumers. For businesses, it is an essential and instrumental tool for introducing their products/services to potential and existing customers, as well as for sustaining their financial resources; whereas for consumers, advertising serves as a driving force in guiding them toward products/ services, while also giving rise (at times) to a variety of controversial topics. For these reasons, the advertising sector is often scrutinized by regulatory authorities and is subjected to a variety of limitations and restrictions for the purpose of protecting consumers who have no discernible control over the marketing activities they become subjected to. Along with the current developments in the modern global economy and the fierce competition engendered by them, technological advances and growing internet use are also in a continuous progress, creating new platforms and mediums advertising activities can filter into and gradually permeate. These changes and advancements also bring the challenge of amending the current legislation in Turkey, especially for surreptitious advertising, having certain harmful effects on consumers. To that end, it can be argued that the existing legislation is deficient in terms of monitoring and detecting violations of advertising regulations that occur on these emerging platforms. This article aims to provide general background information and analysis on surreptitious advertising and its implementations in daily life in a legal context. Furthermore, the basic components and key characteristics of surreptitious advertising, the incentives underlying this activity, and its implementation in a variety of platforms will be illustrated. On that note, the definitions of advertising and surreptitious advertising will be provided, and then what surreptitious advertising really is will be discussed.
Finally, the ways in which surreptitious advertisements influence consumers in practice will be examined by focusing on examples.
Surreptitious, advertising, advertisement, consumer, law, Turkey.
I. General Overview of Advertising under the Turkish Legal System
Before delving into the details of what surreptitious advertising is, it would be useful to first provide some insight into the basic tenets of advertising law in Turkey, in order to gain a better understanding of the core subject and key issues addressed in this article.
As per the existing doctrine, advertising is defined as a means of communication with the purpose of promoting a product or service, whereas the relevant statutes generally define advertising as the promotion of products, services, activities or corporate identities (i.e., brands) through verbal, visual or written communication tools, among numerous other regulations that address the scope of "advertisements" such as Article 3/f of the Regulation on Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council and Article 4/h of the Regulation on the Principles and Code of Practice of Commercial Advertisement and Announcements (Yaar, 2011). To that end, the fundamental pieces of legislation regulating advertisements under Turkish laws include, inter alia, the Consumer Protection Law No. 6502 ("Law No. 6502"), the Law on the Establishment and Principles of Radio and Television Broadcasting No. 6112 ("Law No. 6112"), the Turkish Commercial Code No. 6102 ("Law No. 6102"), together with the Commercial Advertisement and Unfair Trade Practices Regulation No. 29232 ("Commercial Advertising Regulation"), extensively regulating and overseeing all aspects of commercial advertisements.
In view of this legal framework, we observe that there is no single commonly accepted definition of "advertisement," as it concerns various legal matters. Thus, advertising activities are approached and handled in various ways by several law branches, including but not limited to contract law, intellectual property law, and consumer law. Nevertheless, it can be stated that there exists a commonsense of definition of "advertisement," which is as follows: