- Activities designed to promote Interface’s goods and services are, like all advertising and marketing activities, governed by numerous laws and regulations, locally and internationally.
- In response to increased requests for legal guidance, we have assembled these guidelines to help you effectively and efficiently craft marketing communications which comply with the most common regulatory issues.
- These guidelines do not fully address personal use of Social Media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) as an employee. Please see Interface’s Social Media Policy for guidance on personal Social Media use.
- Please vet all advertising and marketing communications / collateral through these guidelines prior to escalating to Legal. This will help ensure a more efficient and thorough legal review process.
- Please ensure that graphic content is in a format that can be reviewed by Legal. Audio/Video assets should be viewable using a web-based player or a universal media player.
- A good rule of thumb is that a communication should be clear enough to be understood by a 10-year old.
Section 1 Claim Requirements
- A “claim” is a representation, express or implied, concerning the nature, characteristics and/or qualities of goods, services or commercial activities
- An example of a claim is “all our product flooring products are carbon neutral”
- All claims in the communication must be true, accurate, and not misleading
- To be true, accurate, and not misleading, claims must be properly substantiated
- The steps in this section are required for all communications regardless of the form and manner in which the claims are made (print, internet, social media, etc.)
Step 1 - Identify All Claims in the Communication
- Review the entire communication, including not just the words and text, but its overall look and feel as well, and identify all express and implied claims
- Ensure that all express and implied claims are true and accurate. You may not publish a claim that is untrue or misleading
Step 2 - Ensure You Have Sufficient Proof – “Substantiation” – to Back Up All Claims
- Ensure you have sufficient proof or “substantiation” for all claims (e.g. “studies show” or “consumers prefer”) prior to publication
- General Requirements: you must have a reasonable basis for all claims and evidence for all express claims (e.g. “two out of three users prefer Interface”)
- Heightened Requirements: you must have reliable scientific evidence for all establishment claims (e.g. test prove, experts agree) and comparative claims with Interface competitors (e.g. X is faster than Y, X outperforms Y)
- Place substantiation in a clearly marked/designated folder on OneDrive
- Note that comparative claims (e.g. “consumers prefer”) and sustainability claims require additional scrutiny, as set forth immediately below.
Step 3 - Comparative Claims Require Additional Scrutiny & Legal Review
- If your communication compares Interface’s goods or services to another company’s goods or services either directly or indirectly (e.g. “Studies show customers prefer Interface to XYZ”), the following requirements apply:
- You may only compare like attributes on an “apples to apples” basis (e.g. price, product, feature, or service comparisons)
- You may not use more of the competitor’s mark, work, or product image than necessary to achieve the comparison
- All comparative claims must be approved by Legal prior to publication and require legal review of all supporting substantiation. Generally, we shy away from comparative claims and instead focus on our product.
Step 4 - Sustainability Claims Require Additional Scrutiny & Legal Review
- Generalized “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” claims are disfavored, as there are no set (legal) definitions or benchmarks for these terms these can be perceived by consumers as overly broad and unsubstantiated.
- To make any kind of eco-friendly or sustainability claim, be specific as to the basis for the claim so that consumers are informed and understand the limits of how and why the product is eco-friendly or sustainable. Any sustainability or eco-friendly claims must be vetted through the legal department prior to publication.
- At Interface, we do not believe that sustainability is something that we have achieved. Therefore, we should never make statements that Interface is a sustainable company, or that we sell sustainable products. Instead, please use language such as the following:
- “At Interface, we are on a journey to sustainability.”
- “At Interface, we are in pursuit of sustainability.”
Section 2 Disclosure Requirements
- A disclosure is explanatory information a reasonable person would consider necessary in order for the communication to be true, accurate, and not misleading. Disclosures should explain and clarify, not contradict, the main claim. Note that “disclosure” and the word “disclaimer” would be interchangeable in this context
- Disclosures are required to:
- Explain a claim, meaning that you must add appropriate language to qualify, limit, or explain express and implied claims, and
- identify situations where there is a material connection between Interface and the author.
- Disclosures for claims are generally disfavored, and the best practice is to modify the main communication to eliminate the need for a disclosure
- A car manufacturer states that its vehicle gets up to 30 miles per gallon, and provides a disclosure at the bottom of the ad stating that results may vary according to driving conditions.
- An actor in a commercial recommends a particular medicine while wearing a doctor’s lab coat. The ad contains a disclosure that the person is an actor and not a real doctor.
- Interface issues a press release that it now sells carbon negative carpet tiles. The press release provides a disclosure clarifying that not all of Interface’s carpet tiles are carbon negative, and specifies which specific products have a carbon negative Embodied Carbon footprint.
- A social media influencer writing a glowing blog review about Interface for which the influencer was paid. The blog contains a disclosure that the influencer received some compensation or there is some “Material Connection” with Interface (see below for explanation of “Material Connection”)
- The steps in this section are required for all communications made or sponsored by Interface regardless of the form and manner in which the claims are made (print, internet, etc.)
Step 1 – Determine Whether a Disclosure Is Necessary
- General Circumstances: Is it necessary to qualify, limit, or explain a claim to ensure that the claim is truthful and not misleading?
- If the claim cannot be modified to eliminate the need for clarification, a disclosure is necessary
- Limitations: Disclosures cannot be used to correct a false claim
- Material Connections: If the person or company making the claim has a Material Connection to Interface, a disclosure is required. A “Material Connection” is any connection that the consumer could potentially view as impacting the speaker’s otherwise independent opinion and belief, including, but not limited to:
- Employment or other legal affiliation with Interface
- Situations where Interface provides consideration to the speaker (money, coupons, free products, incentives, etc.)
- Preferential access to content or products
- Special Disclosures for Material Connections:
- The following disclosures are generally sufficient when a Material Connection exists: “Sponsored” “Promotion” “Paid” “Paid Ad” and “ad”; “spon” is not sufficient.
- You do not need to describe the consideration
- Employees of Interface must disclose their employment relationship in connection with statements which promote Interface products or services. In such cases, the following disclosure is generally sufficient: “Employee”. At Interface, for consistency, we follow any social medial ad or post that is shared by an employee with #InterfaceEmployee.
Step 2 - Include Necessary Disclosures
- Disclosures must be prominent, clear, and proximately located next to the claim triggering the disclosure
- Prominent – the disclosure must be big enough for consumers to notice and read
- Clear – the wording and format of the disclosure must be easy for consumers to understand
- Generally – disclosure must be located near the claim that triggers the disclosure
- Limited Space Disclosures (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) – disclosure should precede the statement. Sometimes, in platforms such as Instagram where space is very limited, you may direct the reader to a disclosure in a hyperlink.
- Videos – disclosures should occur at the beginning of the video; including a lone disclaimer in the text area below the video is not sufficient
- Product Review & Material Connections – disclosure should at the beginning of communication
- Use of Hyperlinks - You may hyperlink to a disclosure if:
- Link is conspicuous; user should not need to scroll to find the disclosure
- Link must convey the relevance of the information linked (e.g. “legal disclosure” is insufficient); and
- Link must take consumer directly to disclosure
- Hyperlinks may not be used if disclosure is integral to the claim (e.g. cost, health or safety information)
Section 3 Endorsements, Testimonials, Bloggers and Influencers
- Endorsements and testimonials are statements made by other individuals and companies which promote Interface’s goods or services. These communications include statements made by bloggers and social media influencers
- Special rules apply to endorsements and testimonials which are solicited or sponsored by Interface – the endorsement or testimonial must comply with Sections 1 and 2 of these guidelines and the specific requirements below (even if the endorsement or testimonial is only published by the other party)
Step 1 – Requirements for Endorsements and Testimonials
- Sponsored or solicited endorsements and testimonials must reflect the honest experience or opinion of the endorser
- Endorsements may not contain any representations that would be deceptive if made by Interface
- Endorsements by customers must reflect the typical experience of average consumers (not a select few)
- If an endorsement does not reflect users’ typical experience, the ad must disclose what customers can typically expect. (Generally, we would want to provide endorsements reflecting a typical experience.)
- If an endorsement represents that the endorser uses the product, the endorser must actually use the product at the time of endorsement
- To give an expert endorsement, the person must have sufficient qualifications to be considered an expert in the field
- If a Material Connection exists (as defined in Section 2), a disclosure is required
- Disclosure must be made with each endorsement; it is not sufficient to give a single disclosure for on-going endorsements
Step 2 – Controlling and Monitoring Endorsements and Testimonials
- Engagement Agreement – Whenever Interface engages another person or company to provide an endorsement, testimonial, product review or to serve as a social media influencer, Interface must use an agreement that requires the endorser to comply with all laws and to properly disclose any material connections
- Monitor communications – You must monitor all endorsements and testimonials sponsored or solicited by Interface to ensure they comply with these guidelines. Escalate all non-conforming endorsements and testimonials sponsored or solicited by Interface to legal promptly
Section 4 Intellectual Property and Privacy Considerations
- Communications and promotions frequently use elements governed by intellectual property and privacy laws
- Text, images, music, and trademarks are governed by intellectual property laws such as copyright and trademark
- A person’s name, voice, image and likeness are governed by privacy or “right of publicity” laws
- The steps in this section are required for all communications and promotions which include any of the above elements
Step 1 - Does the Communication or Promotion Feature any Text, Images, or Music Not Created In-House?
- Ensure all third-party text, images, and music you intend to use in the communication or promotion is properly licensed and cleared prior to use. Lack of a copyright notice does not mean elements may be freely used.
- When possible, we would prefer a “global buyout” of rights to any elements used, to eliminate concerns of infringement. Also preferred are elements created in-house, pre-cleared, or that come with canned “friendly” licenses like creative commons. Note that a creative commons license is still a license that may have limitations on use, so be familiar with whatever the license requires to ensure clearance.
- Images on the internet are not free to copy and paste into Interface advertising materials.
- Ensure all clearance materials are stored in the Global Creative Bank.
- Develop and maintain Interface best practices to ensure that materials initially and legally used with a valid license do not stay published after the expiration of that license.
- Even if Interface is the subject of a third party’s publication, do not repost that publication without confirming the ability to use the publication, images, and / or music. This includes any type of posting, including but not limited to via YouTube, blogs, or any social media content (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.).
Step 2 - Does the Communication or Promotion Feature Another Company’s Trademark?
- You may not use another party’s trademark in a way that implies affiliation or endorsement by the other company without their prior permission. (Note that this is different than the reference in Section 1, Step 3 regarding using a competitor mark for a comparative claim, but we also at Interface do not generally directly compare ourselves to competitors by name.)
Step 3 - Does the Communication or Promotion Feature Someone’s Image or Likeness?
- You may not use a person’s name, image, voice or likeness (whether living or deceased) without the person’s (or their estate’s) prior approval