If you’re a dealership owner or manager, then you’ve probably dealt with advertising compliance for your store(s) as it’s a major component to ensuring that you receive your COOP funds, but did you know that there is a difference between Brand Compliance and Legal Compliance, and the two actually have no relation to one another? At Digital to Dealer Direct we know the automotive environment like no other agency and ensure that our in-house team is informed and knowledgeable with each brand, various state regulations and compliance guidelines and have put together a cheat sheet to help decipher the key differences between the two.
Brand Compliance is a set of rules, set by the brand itself, to ensure consistency between franchise dealerships so dealers don’t stray from the manufacturers’ core brand standards, values or visual identity. If followed correctly, this is when you would receive your COOP funds, and the reason that it’s so important that you follow the rules correctly. These rules could range from the more obvious, such as signage on the building and proper logos in advertising to topics you wouldn’t know unless you read up on them. Some examples include Honda does not allow you to type out “HONDA” in all caps. Nissan only allows you to put “Nissan” in white or black type. Subaru only allows their logo to be included once in an ad.
Another level of Brand Compliance is pre-approval for advertising. Not all manufactures offer this step, but it certainly makes the process a bit easier. It does help to have an understanding of the guidelines so you know what to look for and can also save some time between going back and forth before your ad gets approval. Most manufactures have a co-op website to submit your ads to with a team of professionals to review them. This process can be as quick as a few hours or as long as up to several days. If your ad is approved, you’re good to go! If it’s denied, and you want to receive COOP funds, you must submit your creative until it receives an approval. At D2D, our team of brand compliance experts not only create compliant advertising but can review advertising to ensure COOP reimbursement.
So, you made it through Brand Compliance, BUT WAIT, that does not mean you pass legal compliance and is a very common misconception in the automotive industry. Brand Compliance covers the manufacture itself, but each state has their own set of laws and guidelines that need to be followed. Legal Compliance is enforced to protect the consumer from misleading advertising, or bait and switch methods, and the dealership from litigation. Since these guidelines can vary state to state, it’s important to adhere to the particular regulations in your area.
You may be asking, “What happens if we follow Brand Compliance but not Legal Compliance?” Every time you go against a state regulation you risk the chance of being fined, sued or even shut down. Some items that are state specific range from particular verbiage that can and cannot be used to verbiage that must be included in disclaimers or in the advertisement itself. In New Jersey, in any advertisement that offers a new motor vehicle for sale at an advertised price must include the year, make, model and number of engine cylinders of the advertised vehicle. With such specific requirements, it’s important to have a knowledgeable advertising partner to oversee the legal side of compliance.
As an automotive digital marketing agency, we work with dealerships all over the US and ensure compliance and all regulations are met. If you have any questions about Brand or Legal Compliance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Digital to Dealer Direct. Our experts have years of experience ensuring dealerships creative and websites adheres to all COOP and legal compliance. Contact us today at 877-958-4524.
Kristen has 11 years of experience within the creative side of advertising as an Art Director and Photographer. She is multi-faceted in her experiences and skills in both traditional and digital spaces, primarily for automotive marketing.