Advertising on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok is becoming increasingly common in Poland. Foreign brands from various industries are readily choosing these channels to promote their products to Polish customers. However, for advertising to be effective, it must be legal. Here’s a guide to social media law for marketers.
Table of contents
- Polish Regulations Governing Advertising on Social Media
- Guidelines from the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection
- Consequences of Violating Regulations
Polish regulations on advertising in social media
In Poland, as in many other countries, there are regulations governing advertising in general. However, there is no single legal act dedicated to advertising on social media platforms. As a result, marketers must familiarise themselves with various legal acts to ensure compliance.
The key Polish legal acts that regulate advertising on social media include:
- Competition and consumer protection act
- This act forms the foundation for marketing regulations in Poland. According to this act, no advertisement, including those on social media, should violate the law, good practices, or human dignity.
- Radio and television broadcasting act
- While primarily targeting traditional media, this law’s provisions also apply to advertising on social media. Key legal acts to note include the regulation from the National Broadcasting Council on sponsorship of broadcasts and other transmissions dated July 6, 2000, and the regulation from June 30, 2011, specifying the conditions for product placement.
- Press law
- Advertising-related regulations under the Press Law are also relevant for social media advertising, particularly when sponsored content is published by influencers. The Press Law prohibits practices such as surreptitious advertising.
- Act on combating unfair competition
- This act primarily prohibits misleading actions that are common issues in social media advertising. An advertisement can also be considered an example of unfair competition if it exploits superstitions, takes advantage of children’s gullibility, or appears as neutral information.
- Act on combating unfair market practices
- Important legal provisions regarding social media advertising are also found in the act on combating unfair market practices. This act protects consumers from manipulative practices and safeguards businesses against their competitors gaining an unfair advantage.
Manipulative practices may include:
- Not disclosing or failing to provide clear, unambiguous, or timely essential product information.
- Not disclosing the commercial purpose of the communication.
- Other acts
- Certain industries in Poland have specific regulations regarding advertising on social media, including the alcohol industry (regulated by the Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism Act), the tobacco industry (covered by the Health Protection from the Consequences of Tobacco Use Act), the gambling sector (governed by the Gambling Games Act), and the pharmaceutical industry (regulated by the Pharmaceutical Law).
Guidelines from the office of competition and consumer protection
Apart from consumer-to-brand communication, other entities operating in social media include influencers, whose activities can be considered advertising. Influencers create their content and interact with consumers, influencing their purchasing decisions.
Until 2022, Polish influencers engaging in advertising partnerships with brands were uncertain about the regulations. The Polish marketing laws didn’t address this issue. Many influencers promoted products and services on their social media platforms in ways that seemed like personal opinions, unaffected by advertising agreements or compensation, even if they were acting on behalf of brands.
The “Recommendations of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection on marking advertising content by influencers on social media” provided clarity on this issue. Since 2022, these recommendations have become significant marketing regulations in Poland.
Here are the key guidelines:
Agreements between influencers and advertisers
Agreements between influencers and advertisers can take the form of written contracts (traditional agreements), or they can be through email communications or messages on an instant messaging service.
Any collaboration between an influencer and an advertiser that involves compensation in any form (monetary, in-kind, discounts, bonuses, affiliate links, discount codes, vouchers, licences, etc.) is considered a commercial collaboration and must be marked as such.
Advertiser influence on the content
Irrespective of whether the advertiser had an influence on the content created by the influencer, the publication must be marked as advertising. However, if a creator received a product solely for testing (and has to return it to the brand), they are not required to label it as advertising.
Sending PR packages to influencers, which entails sending them gifts without a promotional agreement, is a common practice in Poland. According to the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK), the first publication of such content does not require marking as sponsored. However, if PR packages continue to appear on an influencer’s profile, all subsequent content should be labeled as advertising.
The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection recommends that influencers mark advertising content at two levels. First, they should use the available functions of the social media platform (e.g., marking a video as containing advertising content on YouTube). Second, they should include this label within the content to inform viewers that it is sponsored material.
Guidelines for marking advertisements
According to Polish marketing regulations, influencers must clearly and legibly label advertising content. Brands must ensure compliance, as they also face legal consequences if an influencer’s content is labeled incorrectly.
These guidelines should be:
- Understandable to the audience
- Distinctive from other content on the influencer’s profile
Mistakes to avoid
- Unclear labeling
- Unclear labels that fail to inform the audience that the content is an advertisement, such as using the hashtag #collab without specifying that it’s an ad, are not allowed.
- Tiny fonts
- Using excessively small fonts or colours that blend into the background is not permitted. The advertisement marking must be visible and legible.
- Hidden hashtags
- Hashtags should not be placed in locations that require viewers to expand the post description to see them.
- Use of foreign languages
- In Poland, advertising labels must be in the Polish language.
Consequences of violating regulations
Violating regulations regarding advertising on social media can lead to serious legal consequences. Due to the absence of a single regulation that governs the advertising industry, there are various penalties. The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) is the primary authority responsible for imposing financial penalties, which can amount to several million Polish zlotys!
Moreover, there are reputational consequences to consider. In Poland, illegal advertising, especially on the Internet, is met with a negative reception. In the world of social media, such information spreads rapidly. Violating the regulations affects the influencer’s reputation and results in a loss of trust in the brand, which can be even more damaging than legal penalties.
If you plan to operate in the Polish market and are looking for a marketing agency to collaborate with, feel free to reach out to us. We have experience in social media advertising campaigns and stay up-to-date with regulations concerning advertising on social media.