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Car Commercial Legalities

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Jake AndersonCar Commercial Legalities
by on May 4, 2013 at 9:17:36 pm

My client has asked me to do a similar video for them like this. Does one need permission from such dealers such as honda to create this? In the end it does promote there cars

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Todd TerryRe: Car Commercial Legalities
by on May 5, 2013 at 5:58:14 am

[Jake Anderson] "Does one need permission from such dealers such as honda... "

Well first a little clarification. Honda isn't a dealer. Honda is a manufacturer. The local stores who sell them are the dealers.

We have done a lot of auto advertising in the past, and it can get a bit tricky.

Technically, no, you do not have to have the manufacturer's permission to do a spot for the dealer. Actually, we do that all the time, as we create ads for the local Porsche dealership. Unusually enough, Porsche itself does not want their local dealers to create any advertising... they would rather the local dealers pay to run the nationally-produced Porsche spots. They like to maintain as much control over their brand as possible, and I suppose have been burned too many times by bad local spots. However, they can't stop them, and we do Porsche spots often.

Usually, though, the manufacturers welcome the advertising. However, there is a very complicated thing called compliance. See. the vast vast majority of local automotive advertising is "co-op." That is, the local dealer pays a portion of the cost, and the manufacturer (Honda or whomever) pays the rest. It can be as much as 50/50 all the way down to 80/20. But to get that co-op money you must comply with the advertising rules required by the manufacturer. There's usually a fairly long list of things you can and cannot do, things you are suggested to do, things you are absolutely required to do, and things that are absolutely forbidden. Some are easy, some are complicated... and all the brands have very different rules. Almost always scripts must be submitted to the compliance department for approval prior to the production. Some brands also require verification of the production after the fact. BMW does this, for example, and we have to mail them a DVD (their requirement) after each production.

The manufacturers claim they like co-op advertising. But the actual truth is that their compliance departments seem to love to kick back spots (either scripts, or even finished productions) claiming they are non-compliant and ineligible for co-op funding. That's why it is very important to learn and apply all of their compliance rules precisely to the letter.

The local dealer should have all of the compliance rules. I said "should" because that's the way it ought to happen... but rarely does. Usually instead they will refer you to the manufacture's main advertising department's website (or sometimes an outside agency), there will be a user name and password-protected website that has all the compliance info and details. Individuals (or even agencies) usually cannot register for access to these, generally the dealer themselves will have to do the registration for you.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Steve MartinRe: Car Commercial Legalities
by on May 7, 2013 at 12:46:39 pm

What i love about the COW is the in-depth knowledge good folks here are willing to share. I don't even do car spots! But reading Todd's reply was really insightful. If I ever have the opportunity to do one, at least I'll have a place to start when planing the pre-pro. Thanks!

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!

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Jake AndersonRe: Car Commercial Legalities
by on May 7, 2013 at 4:00:24 pm

Thanks a lot Todd for the feedback

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Jake AndersonRe: Car Commercial Legalities
by on May 13, 2013 at 4:47:27 pm

Would the same go for a sign company, if we showed signs from like Starbucks and Booster Juice in an infomercial for there signs?

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Neal PetroskyRe: Car Commercial Legalities
by on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:05:34 pm

I think with the signs you are running into a bit more of a complicated situation. With the cars, you are advertising a car (make/model) for the dealership, and since legally (in a lot of states anyways) car manufactuers cannot sell directly to the public, they are dependent on dealerships. Every dealership can have its own incentives (free oil changes for a year etc...) but like stated above, most have to adhere to compliance (if they expect co-op. I've done spots where they don't get co op so we can do whatever we want).

For signs, you are now using trademarks of other company's. The end client better have it in their contract that they can use photography/videography of signs they've built for their own advertising purposes.
It's trickier when it is a nationally known brand rather than a local store sign.

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