Lack of Compliance Can Cost Your Company Millions

Why Care About Compliance?

In today’s increasingly regulated industries, the need for rigorous compliance goes hand in hand with many marketing strategies, and for good reason: if an organization is pulled up by a regulatory authority for lacking compliance, the impact can be huge, and not just in terms of the likely fines or lawsuits. Just as big a headache is the amount of time and money spent trying to find out why compliance failed and then taking remedial action.

The Bogart Estate recently sued Burberry for posting an image of Humphrey Bogart in a trench coat on their timeline. LinkedIn had a difficult summer in 2014 when it faced lawsuits over breach of user privacy law. In the same year, Taylor Swift was issued a trademark infringement lawsuit by Lucky 14 clothing. Plus, here at Northplains, we’ve heard in confidence from brands who have found themselves in court as a result of completely accidental non-compliance issues.

When Compliance Matters Most

Given the ever-growing volume of marketing channels, all including a diverse range of assets, often working in ‘real time’, across multiple countries and timezones, compliance can quickly become a marketer’s worst nightmare. But compliance doesn’t have to be an impossible or onerous task, as will be described shortly. First, let’s remind ourselves of how non-compliance can damage a brand.

  • Failure to meet local or industry regulations – food, alcohol, pharmaceuticals and financial services are examples of industries where marketing campaigns must take into account strict rules around how messages, information and brands are promoted to consumers. Not knowing, for example, that certain types of imagery – perhaps those including children - cannot be used in a particular country or industry, is increasingly important, yet not traditionally an integral part of the marketer’s role.
  • Rights management infringement – it’s all too easy to inadvertently lose track of all the rights-managed elements within marketing materials. For instance, videos can include actors and voice-over artists, while print or web campaigns could include images under license that may have geographic or time limits. Failure to respect someone else’s rights could result in a hefty cost or a lawsuit.
  • IP infringement - Plus, with the advent of easy access to images on the Web and content on YouTube, there is also the risk that staff will find so easy and tempting to just download this material for their own purposes, without realising or stopping to consider that they could be infringing on someone else’s legal rights. Ever downloaded a web image for use in a Powerpoint? Were you absolutely sure that it was royalty free?

Simplifying Compliance in Three Easy Steps

Compliance doesn’t have to create mountains of paperwork or require detailed legal understanding. Here are three ways to protect your organization without creating unnecessary roadblocks in marketing campaigns:

  1. The legal team are friends, not foes – while marketing and legal staff may not be viewed as traditional partners, they share a same aim: to protect the company and associated brands. Have regular meetings so that both sides can understand each other’s requirements. Create processes that are simple to achieve. Think about hosting some joint workshops that will give employees a simple introduction to why compliance is so important.
  2. Take away temptation – if you create an easy to use and content-rich repository of marketing assets, one where it is easy to search across a wide variety of relevant parameters, then staff will be less inclined to trawl Google or YouTube for potentially non-complaint material, which may put themselves or the company at risk.
  3. Build compliance and rights management into your digital asset management system (DAM) – from creation to distribution to archiving, a DAM is the perfect place in which to incorporate everything that a user needs to know about whether a piece of content is compliant, or restrictions over use. There are significant time and cost efficiencies to be gained by automatically associating this information with any given asset, not to mention reduction in the risk of using an asset that could potentially be non-compliant.

Compliance doesn’t have to be chore. Rather than thinking of it as a necessary evil, view compliance as an integral part of protecting the brand, one that is complementary to marketing campaigns, not a hindrance.

Maxine Ambrose
Ambrose Communications