Focus on Advertising: How Have New Regulations On Advertising In Kuwait Changed The Way Businesses Can Promote Their Products?

 

In response to a major change in communications and technology, the Minister of State for Municipal Affairs and the Minister of State for Communications introduced the Ministerial Decision no. 599/2024 (“New Advertising Regulations”), which replace the former advertising regulations under Ministerial Decision no. 172/2006 (“Old Advertising Regulations”).

 

Significance of the Change

The key alterations incorporated in the New Advertising Regulations are aimed at refining the landscape of advertisement, which covers advertising in a broad range of activities such as constructions sites, healthcare and medical sector, and the parliamentary elections.

The imperative for these changes lies in the dynamic nature of the advertising industry. Kuwait, recognizing the need for a contemporary and comprehensive regulatory structure, and comes in response to proactively needing to align its legal framework with the evolving demands of the sector.

One of the key changes between the Old and the New Advertising Regulations is the definition of ‘Advertisement’, which was previously broadly defined, whereas under the reformed decision Article 1 introduces distinctive categories of advertisement which are namely “Commercial Advertisement”, “Informative Advertisement”, “Temporary Seasonal Advertisements”, and “Event Advertisement”.

Moreover, under Article 4 of the New Advertising Regulations a modernized approach to advertising license is introduced, which allows for electronic issuance and renewal of licenses. Notably, the New Advertising Regulations absolves the Municipality of responsibility and denies the right to claim compensation in case of revocation, offering legal protection to consumers, the general public and the Municipality.

Furthermore Article 9 of the New Advertising Regulations introduces new provisions that empower the Director-General of the Municipality to adjust conditions and specifications after consulting the relevant entities and committees. The authority of the Director-General allows for prompt adjustments, ensuring that the regulatory framework remains adaptable to industry dynamics. Article 9 also requires the executive function of the Municipality to specify locations for non-commercial purposes such as ministry projects and awareness campaigns, thereby preventing vital and important places from direct exploitation. This safeguards cultural and governmental landmarks, reflecting a strategic approach to preserving Kuwait’s cultural identity and national symbols.

Another key change between the Advertising Regulations is the inclusion of new prohibitions in the advertising arena. Both the Old and New Advertising Regulations affirm the prohibition of advertisements that conflict with Islamic Sharia, or are contrary to public order, or morals, and those containing inaccurate information. However, the change introduced under the New Advertising Regulations is included under Article 10, which expressly forbids the placement of images of the Emir and Crown Prince on public billboards, with exceptions during designated periods such as the National and Liberation Days of the State of Kuwait. Additionally, it introduces a distinctive accountability structure, placing responsibility on both the advertiser and its advertising client for the content. This aims to enhance regulatory precision and emphasizes responsibility throughout the advertising process.

Additionally, the New Advertising Regulations bring a significant inclusion under Article 6, which provides that the advertisement licensee’s liability not only to ensure the accuracy of the data, but also the responsibility for the trademark(s) used in an advertisement. This is a noteworthy step towards protecting intellectual property rights, including having recourse against trademark infringers through imposing financial penalties stipulated under the Regulations, and/or requesting the Municipality to exercise its authority of removing breaching advertising material.

Finally, the New Advertising Regulations builds upon the prohibition outlined in the Old Advertising Regulations, reinforcing restrictions on advertising specific goods and services. Both Regulations restrict the promotion of cigarettes and related products, medicines and health-related devices. However, the New Advertising Regulations introduces new regulations for other aspects not previously covered such as explicitly prohibiting the advertising of medical operations without obtaining the Ministry of Health’s prior approval, and content with negative societal impacts, such as violence or fear-inducing and bullying materials. Furthermore, it grants the Director General of the Municipality the authority to prohibit additional goods, products, or services beyond the stipulated categories at the request of concerned authorities.

 

Change in Enforcement

A noteworthy change between the Old and the New Advertising Regulations is the provisions addressing its enforcement. The New Advertising Regulations amended the enforcing entity to the Municipality under Article 23, which gives it the right to remove the violating Advertisement, confiscate the materials used in it, withdraw the advertisement license permanently or for a specific period, especially Advertisements that violate the spacing between billboards, correct the violating actions, restore the things to their original state, and impose permanent closure after two warnings.

Previously, under the Old Advertising Regulations, the enforcement of corrective measures or penalties required a court order finding that conduct in question was a violation of the Regulations under Article 23 of the Old Advertising Regulations, while the Municipality had a limited authority to remove violating advertisements under Article 13 of the said Regulations.

 

Practical Changes for Professionals

Professionals in the advertising sector must now navigate a more detailed and structured regulatory framework. The New Advertising Regulations includes new additions to the mediums and different platforms and set out the requirements in terms of specifications and licenses. In addition, the New Advertising Regulations takes a new approach with regards to licensing fees, which is determined based on the size, type and location of the advertisement, and thus requires professionals to consider carefully the financial implications of the New Advertising Regulations with regards to existing and prospective advertisements.

 

Other Applicable Laws and Regulations

While the New Advertising Regulations is a fundamental aspect of the legal framework governing marketing and advertising in Kuwait, Kuwaiti law also includes other regulations which apply to this arena, including but not limited to, Ministerial Resolution no. 87/2022 on ‘The Controls and Regulations Governing the Process of Medical Advertisements in the Private Sector’, Ministerial Decision no. 991/2022 on ‘The Regulation of Commercial Advertisements in the Publications of the Ministry of Information’, Ministerial Decision no. 992/2022 on ‘the Regulation of Television of Advertisements’, and Ministerial Decision no. 993/2022 on ‘the Regulation of Radio Advertisement’.

 

Conclusion

The New Advertising Regulations have taken a different approach than its predecessor, by providing more structured and detailed regulations which apply to each distinct activity or industry. An overall objective is to safeguard consumers from potentially misleading or confusing advertisements which may cause them to make ill-informed decisions.

Furthermore, another equally important objective is to protect the general public from eyesores or public hazards caused by inappropriate or ill-placed advertising, or overcrowding public areas with advertising materials that may restrict visibility in roads or cause a nuisance in buildings.

Finally, the New Advertising Regulations also ensures that competition is fair between competitors in a respective market, through approval of advertisements and ensuring uniformity in advertising guidelines.

As Kuwait embraces a reinvigorated Advertisement Regulation, the road ahead promises a more organized and transparent advertisement landscape. Future considerations may involve fine-tuning regulations based on practical experiences and industry feedback, ensuring a dynamic and responsive legal framework.

 

 

Written By: Noura Al Yaqout

Associate

 

Focus on Advertising: How Have New Regulations On Advertising In Kuwait Changed The Way Businesses Can Promote Their Products?   In response to a major change in communications and technology, the Minister of State for Municipal Affairs and the Minister of State for Communications introduced the Ministerial Decision no. 599/2024 (“New Advertising Regulations”), which replace […]