Could your business center ads get you into legal trouble? In part one of this series, we looked at some common pitfalls for business center operators that turn to advertising to generate tenant attention.
Some of those pitfalls included making promise you can’t keep, using too much puffery in your advertising, not having advertised technology amenities in place or in working order, bait and switch through incongruent pricing, and even what you name your business center.
Sometimes the misunderstandings are not your fault. But even when it isn’t your fault, it’s still your fault. In other words, even if you didn’t try to use slick words to attract tenants to your business center, trouble could still come your way through simple misunderstandings.
“The fundamental point with advertising law is that advertisers are not only responsible for what they say, but also for what people take away from the ad, even if that is not what was intended,” explains Lew Rose, attorney with Collier Shannon Scott in Washington, D.C.
“You may have one understanding as to what you mean when you say ‘24-hour security’ and it may be true, but if 20 percent of your audience takes away a different meaning, then you are responsible to substantiate that meaning.”
That makes advertising copy even more difficult to write, especially since most tenants have little prior experience with the business center industry and could easily misunderstand the lingo. Rose suggests developing a brochure that goes into more detail about what the facility offers, because best intentions are no excuse in court.
“Intent is irrelevant. And truth is not always a defense,” says Rose. “What you say may in fact be true, but it may not be the complete story. Advertisers have an obligation to make sure that they do not leave out any material terms of an offer.”
Catch up on the rest of the series:
Legalities Of Advertising A Business Center, Part I
Legalities Of Advertising A Business Center, Part 3