More and more often, people are encountering disclaimers along with advertising. You see them on Instagram contests and on TV commercials and on blogs. You also hear them on the radio. A radio ads disclaimer is for the purpose of limiting legal liability, protecting rights, and separating the ad from the platform, just like all other disclaimers. It protects both the advertiser and the customer, and even the radio station. It does this by preventing the customer from being able to sue the company for false information. Also, it keeps the customer safe because the ad cannot include deceptive material. Basically, a radio ads disclaimer is there for the benefit of everyone involved.
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This post was updated in May 2021
Radio Ads Disclaimer – What it is and why it’s there
As mentioned, a radio ads disclaimer is there primarily to limit legal liability. Nobody wants to have a customer file a law action against them, and this precaution safeguards the advertiser. This also protects the consumer because it prevents the advertiser from making false claims.
As stated in an article on termsfeed.com, When someone is presented with an advertisement, the ad should be truthful and not misleading. This applies to all ads regardless of whether it’s a radio, television or internet ad. It’s the job of the Federal Trade Commission in the US to make sure ‘truth in advertising’ laws are adhered to.
The Federal Trade Commission is the body responsible for regulating radio advertising. They are the ones who regulate disclaimers for radio ads. They look at ads most closely that can impact health and finances. Some examples are advertisements for food, over the counter drugs, and dietary supplements. They also keep an eye on ads regarding alcohol and tobacco, high tech products and the Internet, according to FTC.gov.
These regulations and disclaimers keep ads from being deceptive.
When and Why Should You Have a Disclaimer?
If you are running an ad on a radio station and it fits one of the aforementioned categories (primarily health and/or finances) you should consider a disclaimer. If a consumer can hear your ad and believe something you did not intend, you need a disclaimer. It is the advertiser’s responsibility, but the radio station may be reluctant to run an ad without a disclaimer if it could be interpreted to be deceptive.
Sometimes with an audio ad, the disclaimer can be tricky. In print, it’s called fine print for a reason. A printed disclaimer is small and unobtrusive. That makes it easy to skip over. However, on the air, it has to be as predominant as the rest of the ad, even though it comes at the end. Most people are familiar with the disclaimers on medical prescription ads. We hear a whole rambling list of possible side effects and precautions at the end of these commercials. This is for both the protection of the consumer and the manufacturer. Disclaimers are basically saying “don’t hold us responsible for what happens.”
If your radio ad has anything that could be misconstrued, controversial, not go exactly as planned or intended, or taken not as directed, you should consider adding a radio ads disclaimer. You hear it all the time, “Take as directed.” That’s a disclaimer. Also, the station is more likely to air your commercial if you’ve got everyone covered.
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Different Types of Radio Ad Disclaimers
Along with the different types of radio ads, there are some different types of radio ads disclaimer. Again, they are most often used when it comes to health products or involves money, but there are other scenarios, too.
Political Ads – When a political ad is aired on the radio, it must have a disclaimer. According to the FEC, if the candidate or campaign authorizes and finances a covered communication (including any solicitation), the notice must state that the communication was paid for by the authorized committee. It must be clear if the campaign has authorized and/or financed the campaign in the disclaimer.
Health Ads – When it comes to ads for health and wellness, disclaimers are necessary. The purpose of these disclaimers is to indicate that results may not be the same for everyone. For instance, a radio ads disclaimer for a weight loss supplement will say something like “must be combined with diet and exercise.” You may hear “talk to your doctor” when it comes to medications. Again, a disclaimer is there for the benefit of the consumer and the advertiser.
Product Ads – When it comes to products, the thing you will hear most often when it comes to disclaimers is “certain conditions apply.” Think about an ad for your local car dealership. They are having a special on certain cars, but when you go in, those “certain conditions may apply.” You may not always get the deal that brought you in, but you can’t hold them liable. This covers the dealership from having to put the deal on every car. This can also have to do with personal finances so they don’t have to offer the deal to every financial situation.
When it comes to the radio ads disclaimer you hear on the air, there are certain pieces of legalese they should contain. As mentioned above, there are specific terms regarding political ads, health ads, and product advertisements.
Some key bits of legality that may need to be in specific advertisements are things like:
- Would the product be harmful? If there is a risk of harm or injury from the product, legalese should state this with a disclaimer. This helps prevent the consumer from filing an action if they are harmed from using the product incorrectly.
- Include terms and conditions. For instance, back to the weight loss supplement example, it should include something to the effect, “must be combined with exercise and diet” or “results will vary by person.” For a sale on furniture, terms and conditions may state that not all products are on sale. And for something like a computer, terms and conditions may add that once it in your possession the dealer is no longer responsible for the damage.
- Protect your rights. If you have created something and want to prevent someone from copying it, have a disclaimer. Just as the disclaimer can protect you from lawsuits, the radio ads disclaimer can also protect your rights. Some legalese here could be “permission must be granted for work to be shared elsewhere.”
- Views expressed disclaimers. Especially for political or controversial ads, it’s important to have a disclaimer. This disclaimer can state that the views expressed are not indicative of the radio station. It can keep the station neutral so as not to offend or put off any regular listeners.
Why are Disclaimers Always Read So Fast
As far as the speed that the voice over shares the disclaimer, think about time constraints. You only have so many seconds for your entire ad. The disclaimer should not take up most of it. And because, as we know, there aren’t a lot of hard and fast rules the disclaimer is not cut and dried. This is an area with a lot of flexibility and gray tones. According to a piece in AutoNews, “Generally speaking, disclaimers have to be presented in a manner that’s sufficient to correct any misimpression that would be created by the ad in the absence of a disclaimer,” said Mark Glassman, a senior attorney at the Federal Trade Commission. This says nothing about the speed at which disclaimers air. It also does not how many words they can contain.
This can get difficult because the faster the talk is, the harder time consumers have of understanding the disclaimer. Some may see this as deceitful. Mostly it goes back to the time constraints. Often the voice over is someone with a talent for speaking very fast. Sometimes, however, the sound engineers actually do speed up the disclaimer. This way they can fit more in without losing advertising content.
Businesses must be careful with this, however, because part of the disclaimer is that consumers understand it. The verbiage cannot be at such a high speed that listeners can’t understand it. It still needs to be intelligible even if it’s speedy.
How Do Consumers View these Disclaimers?
It seems there is a relevant joke in society about disclaimers. Everyone has heard them and can rattle off odd side effects from medications or stringent stipulations on sales and discounts. But do the disclaimers actually have a negative effect on consumerism?
According to Science Daily, they might. Fast disclaimers can give consumers the impression that an advertiser is trying to conceal information. However, this article shares that if the consumers already know and trust the brand, they don’t feel this way. That impression is for new or unfamiliar brands, and this impression can hurt them. A study shows that the more consumers are aware of your brand, the faster the speak in your disclaimer can be. If listeners do not know your brand as well, slow down the disclaimer and give it more time.
A perfect balance would be the ideal solution. If you as an advertiser can get all of your information into your disclaimer with a voice that speaks at a fast but understandable rate, you’ll be good.
The Big Take Away
The bottom line to disclaimers is they can’t hurt, so use them. Sure, a disclaimer probably can’t cover every little thing; someone may be able to find a way around if they are really intent on doing so. But overall, a disclaimer can safeguard the business owner, the consumer, and the radio station. It makes sense to have a disclaimer that covers the relevant aspects of the ad.
A well-written disclaimer can:
- Protect rights
- Clarify information
- Limit damages
- Warn about dangers
- Limit liability
- Safeguard property
If your worry is that your disclaimer will take up too much of your radio ad, find a fast-talking voice over actor. Just be careful it’s not too fast and that it is understandable. Your disclaimer can protect you and your business.