Advertising Law In Ecuador

There is no specific law regulating all aspects of advertising in Ecuador. However the Constitution lays out fundamental principles that apply to advertising. Advertising is also regulated by the Consumer Protection Law and Regulations, the Childhood and Adolescence Protection Laws, and various ordinances.

The advertising industry also self-regulates by voluntarily adhering to the Ecuadorian Code of Ethics and Self-Regulation for Advertisers. This code provides that the advertiser (company commissioning the advertisement), the advertising agency, and the media are responsible for complying with the regulations. The advertising agency must exercise the utmost care when creating advertisements and will be severally liable with the advertiser for violations to the code of conduct. The media are responsible for taking the proper measures before they accept an advertisement and air it to the public, and are expected to reject advertisements that violate the code of conduct.

The most common agencies dealing with advertising issues are the Consumer Defense Tribune and the Ombudsman or People’s Defender.

Products and Services Banned from Advertising
While advertising of some goods and services is restricted by law as described in the next section, no specific products or services are totally prohibited from being advertised.

Regulations Related to Product and Service Advertising
Alcohol (beer and wine)
The Regulation for the Authorization and Control of Advertising for Processed Foods states that alcohol advertisements cannot suggest an association between alcohol and health, to success in sports, or to women as sex symbols. Advertising of alcoholic beverages will not be authorized if it:
• Promotes excessive consumption
• Relates to educational, home, or work activities
• Associates alcohol with sweepstakes, contests, or collectibles
• Features well-known athletes or other persons in relation to sports
• Relates to civic or religious holidays
• Promotes alcohol as having relaxing or disinhibiting properties
Whenever alcoholic beverages are advertised, the Department of Public Health requires that the following warning messages be included: “Consumption of alcohol limits your capacity to drive and operate machinery, it can cause health problems and it can damage your family” and “Sale of alcohol to minors is prohibited.” The wording in Spanish is: “Advertencia. El consumo excesivo de alcohol limita su capacidad de conducir y operar maquinarias, puede causar daños en su salud y perjudica a su familia. Ministerio de Salud Pública del Ecuador. Venta prohibida a menores de 18 años.” This warning must also be printed on the beverage label and must occupy six percent of the label.

Advertising of alcohol on television cannot be aired between 6am and 9pm, and the messages must be shown for at least three seconds when the product has less than 5% alcohol or five seconds when the content is 5% or higher. The font must be visible and must contrast with the background. The same time restrictions apply for cable or satellite television.

Alcohol (Spirits)
The restrictions mentioned above apply to spirits as well as other alcoholic beverages. Since the alcoholic content of spirits is above 5%, the warnings mentioned above must be displayed for at least five seconds. For advertisements on the radio, the warnings must be clearly read at the end of the commercial. Underage children or adolescents may not be part of advertisements for these goods. These advertisements are also forbidden during programs for children on the radio or television. Alcohol companies are not allowed to sponsor events whose primary audience consists of minors. Alcohol advertisements are not permitted on movie theaters unless the movie is restricted for audiences 18 years or older. Billboard advertisements for spirits may not be placed within 200 meters of a school.

Firearms, Weapons, and Ammunition
Article 78 of the Minors and Adolescents Protection Law states that ads related to firearms, ammunition, and dangerous substances may not involve children or adolescents, as these items are considered dangerous for the health and personal safety of young people.

The Regulation for the Authorization and Control of Advertising for Processed Foods establishes some limitations on the advertising of food. It specifically prohibits the following:
• Expressly or implicitly suggest that the product has ingredients or properties which it does not
• Advertisements for processed foods which induce or promote dangerous eating
• Advertising stating that a product by itself fulfills all nutritional requirements
• Attributing a superior nutritional value to industrialized foods compared to natural products
• Claims of healthful properties which cannot be proven
• Attributing to the food product healing characteristics to treat, prevent, or cure a disease
• Comparative advertising or imaging which idealizes one product compared to another
• Use of minors in advertising of processed foods

Since March 2012, gambling has been illegal in Ecuador; all casinos and other gambling facilities have been closed down. Therefore, no advertising can be done for gambling. The sole exception is state lotteries, over which the Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil has a monopoly. The state lottery is one of the largest advertisers in the country, with 2 to 2.8 percent of the advertising market. It is not bound by any schedule or other restrictions.

Legal Services
There is no specific regulation, other than the general constitutional provision that people have the right to free choice of quality goods and services, and to precise and truthful information about their content and characteristics.

Medical Devices
No current restrictions

Medical Services
No current restrictions

Nonprofit Fundraising
No current restrictions

Nutritional Supplements
Nutritional supplements are also bound by the food regulations above. In addition, restrictions apply to advertising supplements for children under 6 months. For supplements for babies, an authorization is required by the Sanitary Agencyand they will consider the age of the target babies and whether they are being breastfed or not. The regulations ensure the promotion of breastfeeding, and products should bear a message stating: “Breast milk is the best food for your infant’s health and nutrition, as it is the only complete and irreplaceable food. This product should not be the only food for your baby.”

Occult (“Psychic”) Services
Section 3 of the Ecuadorian Code of Ethics and Self-Regulation for Advertisers regulates fear, superstition, and violence in relation to ads. These advertisements cannot exploit any type of superstition or be based on fear, unless there is any socially relevant or plausible justification.

Prescription medicines require a statement that they are only sold under prescription from a professional doctor. All medicines are require to show the following information:
• Generic or brand name of the product
• Trademark
• Lot number
• Name of the producer
• Net weight
• Health registration number
• Expiration date or maximum time of consumption
• List of components with their specifications
• Public price
• Country of origin
• Contraindications or side effects
Flu medications formerly available over the counter were recently prohibited from advertising and sale without prescription after the appearance of the H1N1 virus. Such medications were said to hide the symptoms of the H1N1 flu and could worsen the condition of a person with that virus.

Political Advertising
Political advertisement is heavily regulated by the Constitution and Election Laws. Article 115 of the Constitution states that political advertising for elections must be distributed equally and fairly among candidates to promote the debate and the diffusion of all the propositions. The Constitution also forbids advertising with political intolerance. Children and adolescents are also protected by the Childhood and Adolescence Protection Law against appearing in programs or shows with political or religious campaigns.

Products Related to Sexuality
These products may not be promoted by minors, as children and adolescents are considered naïve and exposure to advertisements for sex-related products could be confusing to them in their inexperience. Ads for products related to sexuality may not be aired on family schedules on radio or television. Family schedules are defined below under Advertising to Children.

Ecuador guarantees freedom of religion. Advertising may not proselytize or attempt to persuade a person to follow any religion. The Constitution forbids advertising that promotes religious intolerance. Religious ads are very rare in Ecuador except during Easter, Christmas, or other important religious holidays.

Sex (Adult) Services
Promotion of sexual services is regulated by the Childhood and Adolescence Protection Law, and schedule restrictions are in place. The Ecuadorian Code of Ethics and Self-Regulation for Advertisers also forbids these advertisements during times of day scheduled for family programming.

Tobacco Products
The Tobacco Regulation and Control Law restricts the advertising of tobacco products. All indoor or outdoor tobacco advertising is forbidden except in places where tobacco products are sold or in places where access is restricted to adults. No children may appear in ads for tobacco products.

Advertising cannot be directed at minors and cannot appear on packaging or covers of magazines, newspapers, or other periodical publications.

All tobacco packs, packaging, and labeling are pre-approved by the Department of Public Health and are required to bear several warnings. The mandated warnings contain images and text covering 60 percent of the front panel of the packaging, while the health information covers 70 percent of a side panel.

No current restrictions

Regulations Related to Advertising Methodology
Advertising to Children
The Consumer Protection Law, the Childhood and Adolescence Protection Law and the Ecuadorian Code of Ethics and Self-Regulation for Advertisers forbid the advertising of alcoholic beverages, and tobacco, as well as any advertisement taking advantage of the ingenuousness, credulity, inexperience, and sense of loyalty of children. The family schedule is set from 6am to 9pm and no such advertising can be shown between those hours. The self-regulation code states that during children’s programming or during programs with easy public access, advertisements must take care that their content and presentation are appropriate for children.

Celebrity Endorsements
No current restrictions

Comparative Advertising
Article 11 of the Regulation for the Authorization and Control of Advertising for Processed Foods forbids all types of comparison between products. However, the Self-Regulation Code states that comparative advertising is allowed when the comparison is objective. The comparison must be verifiable. If it deals with consumer goods, the comparison must be between models made at the same time unless it is intended to show evolution, which also needs to be verifiable. There cannot be confusion among competing products and trademarks, and the advertisement may not disparage the other company’s product or trademark. The Intellectual Property Law states that it is an act of unfair competition if advertising imitates, disrespects, or diminishes the competitor or its products or services, and if the comparative statements are not verifiable.
The Regulation and Control of Market Power Law (Antitrust Law) defines comparative advertising as an unfair practice when it refers to extremes which are not analogous, relevant, or comparable. Comparative advertising involves the activity, the services, the products, or the establishment of a third party.

No current restrictions

Deceptive or Misleading Advertising
Article 6 of the Consumer Protection Law describes the types of advertising which are not permitted, namely deceptive or abusive advertising, or advertising that misleads the consumer in the selection of goods or services which can affect consumers’ interests or rights.
The Consumer Protection Law defines deceptive advertising as all types of commercial information or communications where the content is totally or partially contrary to real or purchasing conditions of the goods or services offered, or that uses text, dialogues, sounds, images, or descriptions which directly, indirectly, or by omission of essential facts of a product, lead to deceit, error, or confusion to the consumer.

Deceptive or misleading use of trademarks in commerce is also regulated by the Intellectual Property Law and the Antitrust Law, and may give raise to unfair competition claims. The Antitrust Law also prohibits deceptive advertising and defines it as affirmations (or omissions) which are not truthful or exact about products or services. The advertiser (party commissioning the advertisement) has the burden of proving its affirmations and is required to have the documentation to prove them.

Disguised Ads (Including Advertorials)
No current restrictions apply to disguised ads per se, but general principles apply; see above text on deceptive or misleading advertising.

Environmental Issues
Advertisements are not allowed if they incite:
• Contamination of the air, water, forests, and other natural resources
• Contamination of the urban environment
• Extinction of flora, fauna and other natural resources
• Excessive noise
• Waste of natural resources

False Advertising
False advertising is prohibited by the Consumer Protection Law.

Free Gifts/Samples
The Regulations of the Consumer Protection Law state that any unsolicited product or service sent to a consumer is deemed as a free sample. The Self-Regulation Code for Advertising states that the word “free” or any synonyms may be used in advertising only when in fact what was offered as free has no cost. If any type of payment is needed, such as postage, shipping, handling, or even a tax, the consumer needs to be clearly informed.

Limits to Free Speech
The existence of free speech has been in debate during the last few years. Although there are no prior restrictions, if there is defamation, slander, or libel in an advertisement, criminal liability may arise.

Article 19 of the Constitution forbids advertising that induces to violence, discrimination, racism, substance abuse, sexism, or political or religious intolerance and any advertisement that infringes rights. Furthermore, the Advertising Self-Regulation Code prohibits advertisements showing lack of respect for human dignity, the institution of the family, or private property.

Length of Commercial, Volume, and Similar Restrictions
No current restrictions

Rights of Privacy
Authorization is required to use the likeness, images, or quotes from a person or the person’s legal representatives or successors.

Product Demonstrations
No current restrictions

Regional Public and/or Community Standards
No current restrictions

No current restrictions

Sex in Advertising
The Advertising Self-Regulation Code calls for a duty of care in the content and presentation of advertising during children’s programming or in any way of easy public access. The Childhood and Adolescence Protection Law forbids participation of children in programs, advertisements, or productions with pornographic content, or in shows not suitable for their ages.

Sponsorships are regulated by the Consumer Protection Law for two main industries, alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol companies are not allowed to sponsor any underage artist or any show directed at underage children.

Sporting or similar events cannot be sponsored by any producer, importer, or distributor of tobacco or any related product, unless the adult public comprises 75% of the attendees and all the athletes are at least 18 year old.

Social, benefit, or cultural events can be sponsored by tobacco companies as long as the name of the company is displayed in a way clearly different from the products’ trademarks, and no logo or design used for the tobacco company’s products may be displayed.

Statistics and Scientific Studies
The Self-Regulation Code for Advertising requires any statistics or scientific research cited in an advertisement to be supported by a verifiable, responsible, and identifiable source. Partial data or incomplete statistics cannot be used to lead the consumer to distorted conclusions. If the ad presents scientific information, it should contain only pertinent and verifiable information either implicitly or as a scientific premise.

Subliminal Advertising
The Consumer Protection Law protects the consumer’s right to protection against misleading or abusive business methods and specifically identifies subliminal advertising as abusive. The law also bans as deceptive any advertising that uses text, dialogues, sounds, images, or descriptions which directly, indirectly, or by omission of essential facts of a product, lead to deceit, error, or confusion to the consumer.

Sweepstakes Offers
The Self-Regulation Code for Advertising defines sweepstakes as any advertising made by rewarding systems to the consumer consisting in raffles, drawings, coupons, bonds, tickets, stamps, and other cash redeemables. Sweepstakes are governed by the advertisers’ agreements or by special regulations. A special regulation has not been enacted, but the civil code regulations regarding contracts apply.

Only genuine and personal testimonials from true past or present experiences of the declarant or whomever the declarant represents are allowed by the self-regulation code. The testimonial must be current and verifiable. The representation of the declarant by another party must be expressly authorized for purposes of the advertisement.

Tie-In Offers
The self-regulation code states that promotional wording such as “direct from the manufacturer,” “sale price,” “no down payment,” and similar expressions shall not lead the consumer into confusion or deceit and can only be used when the advertiser or the advertising agency can verify what is announced. Tie-in offers must abide by these definitions and the general rules against deceptive advertising.

Use of a Public Person’s Image or Name
Article 66(18) of the Constitution protects the name and images of persons. The Self-Regulation Code for Advertising states that the use of images or quotes from a person requires an express authorization by such person or the person’s legal representative. However, the law does not make any distinction between lay persons and public persons.

Use of Children in Advertising
Use of children in advertising requires express consent from their parents or legal guardians. Further, the areas in which children may appear are limited by the Childhood and Adolescence Protection Law and the self-regulation code. Children are banned from participating in:
• Programs, advertisements, or productions with pornographic or adult content
• Political or religious campaigns
The Regulation for the Authorization and Control of Advertising for Processed Foods bans children completely from participating in any marketing material for processed foods.

Use of Foreign Language in Advertising
The Consumer Protection Law requires that all data and general information in labels, containers, packaging, or other types of wrapping of offered products, as well as all advertising, information or announcements in relation to services offered must be in Spanish, in current circulation currency (US dollars), and in general-usage measurement units (metric). However, the data may additionally be provided in other languages or measurement units.
The Self-Regulation Code for Advertising states that good use of the Spanish language must be made in advertisements.

Use of Models as Doctors, Nurses, Lawyers, or other Professionals
No current restrictions

Violence in Advertising
The Constitution prohibits any advertising that induces to violence, discrimination, racism, substance abuse, sexism, or political or religious intolerance, as well as any advertisement that infringes rights. The Self-Regulation Code for Advertising also provides that advertisements shall not induce to violence.

Regulations Related to Media Channels
Billboard Advertising
Billboard advertising is regulated by municipal ordinances. For example, advertising on walls which can be seen from public spaces is not allowed in Quito. Among the most important prohibitions are:
• Exterior advertising or advertising on top of buildings that are declared as historic and/or artistic
• Billboards in lots located in historic areas
• Exterior advertising in protected natural areas
• Exterior advertising on utility poles or towers
• Advertising which can mislead and totally or partially obscure road and traffic signs
• Advertising on sidewalks
• Advertising on building fronts
Billboard advertising regulations change frequently, and they vary from place to place; therefore it is very important to check the latest updates on regulations and ordinances.

Digital Media Advertising (websites, online advertising)
No current restrictions. General rules apply.

Direct Mail Advertising
No current restrictions. General rules apply.

Email Advertising (Spam)
The E-Commerce Law protects users against receiving unsolicited email. The recipient must be able to opt out or refuse further communications.

Newspaper Advertising
No current restrictions. General rules apply.

Periodical Advertising
The rules stated above regarding alcohol and tobacco advertising apply for any periodical advertisements. Ads must also comply with Childhood and Adolescence protection laws. Periodicals directed at or intended for children cannot contain images, texts, or messages not appropriate for children’s developmental stage.

Radio Advertising
Tobacco and other tobacco products may not be advertised over the radio. The Consumer Protection Law specifically forbids such practice in its Article 53.

Social Media Advertising
No current restrictions

Television Advertising
The main issues in TV advertising are the family schedules from 6am to 9pm, during which time alcohol advertising as well as other sensitive programming is restricted. In cable or satellite TV incoming from abroad, advertisements for tobacco or alcohol are not allowed in any schedule. There are few precedents in case law regarding these limitations.
Tobacco and tobacco products are completely banned from TV advertising by Article 53 of the Regulations to the Consumer Protection Law.

Programming or advertising during programming for children, according to Article 46 of the Childhood and Adolescence Protection Law, may not contain images, text, or messages inappropriate to children’s developmental stage.

No current restrictions

Regulatory Agencies
Tribuna de Defensa del Consumidor
Consumer Defense Tribune
Edificio Gabriela Mistral, calle Luis Cordero 1.154
Tel: [593] (2) 2528 430; [593] (2) 2500 147
In charge of receiving people’s complaints about poor quality goods or services; they try to settle the matters amicably.

Defensoría del Pueblo
Av. de la Prensa N54-97 y Jorge Piedra
Tel: [593] (2) 3301 112
In charge of receiving people’s petitions for redress when any fundamental right is broken.

Key Laws and Regulations
Ecuador’s Constitution
R.O. No. 449—October 20th of 2008
Sets out the main principles for content-related advertising, privacy rights, and consumer rights.

Consumer Protection Law
R.O. No. 116—July 10th, 2000.
Enacted to protect consumers from abusive practices by providers of goods or services. It gives rights to the consumers and regulates the service provider’s actions.

Regulations to the Consumer Protection Law
R.O. No. 116—July 10th, 2000
Provides more specific rules for the Consumer Protection Law.

Childhood and Adolescence Protection Law
R.O. No. 737—January 3rd, 2003
Compilation of all areas of law affecting children’s and adolescents’ rights. It states their rights and obligations.

Advertising Pre-Clearance Agencies
No public official agency currently provides pre-clearance services.

1. There are not enough rules and regulations covering all the different advertising issues. The different norms are scattered through different bodies of law, and not all of them are strictly enforced. The body of case law and precedents is inadequate to establish criteria on what is and is not allowed for specific matters. With the emergence of new types of media, such as social media, the rules are not quite clear. Given the amount of contradictions and/or loopholes, it is important that an analysis be made on a case-by-case basis.
2. A new communications law is being discussed in Congress. However, it will not cover all aspects of advertising.

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