Businesses have relied on marketing campaigns (including special offers and games) for decades to popularize their services and products. In these efforts, the end consumer has always been the target and the source of success. With the dramatic increase of digital technologies, it has become an expected trend for organizations to use their websites, social media, and other online sources to achieve higher sales. Bulgaria is no exception to this trend. Due to the influence of the dynamic environment and the golden rule to "Be the First", there is a tendency among companies in Bulgaria to speed up such campaigns and neglect what should be a core part of them, namely their legal structure. This in turn can create a risk of potentially serious unintended breaches. There are many good reasons why Bulgarian companies should consider the legal side before launching new online marketing campaigns.
An online marketing campaign often includes the assistance of an advertising agency, the use of personal data (e.g. names, email addresses, addresses of consumers), prizes, the use of photos subject to copyrights, and the use of the company's trademarks and those of its campaign partners, to name just a few aspects. The aforementioned matters are regulated by various laws, for example:
- Contracts and Obligations Act1 / Commerce Act2 – regulating the relations between the company and its consumers, and/or by the company and its partners;
- Personal Data Protection Act3 - regulating the use of the consumers' personal data;
- Consumer Protection Act4 - regulating the rights of the consumers;
- Competition Protection Act5 (unfair competition) – regulating the conditions for conferring the prizes and advertizing;
- Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act7 – regulating the copyrights for photos, software etc.;
- Marks and Geographical Indications Act8 – regulating the use of the trademarks.
Various other laws might also be involved, depending on the specific marketing campaign. Non-compliance with the legal requirements might lead to complaints and could potentially incur costs for the companies, among which are eventual penalties, legal costs (for example, in case of disputes or out-of-court settlements) or other negative outcomes.
By obtaining the consent of the consumers for the use of their personal data
In order to ensure timely execution of the campaign, it is incumbent that the legal review of the basic structure of the campaign be made at an early stage and that, in concert with other parties, the legal team is able to shape the details of the campaign to ensure it complies with all relevant laws and regulations. This avoids the extra time of re-working the campaign to comply with all legal requirements after management and creative teams have fully designed it -- something that seems to be the case all too often.