Agency: Fallon London
By JOHN TYLEE, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 24 July 1998 12:00AM
Germany is under pressure to reform its draconian direct marketing
rules or face an action against it at the European Court of Justice.
The warning to the German government by the European Commission is a
huge boost to advertising lobbyists who see Germany’s restrictions as a
major obstacle in the drive towards a European single market in
The restrictions are under threat as a result of an instruction to the
German government by the commission to abolish its curbs on the direct
sale of compact discs.
The ruling settles a long-standing and controversial case provoked by
the Dutch company, PolyGram, which complained to the EU about the German
rules which, it claimed, prevented it launching a CD club on its own
Under laws dating back to the 30s, companies trading in Germany are
banned from offering promotional discounts and gifts.
PolyGram had claimed these rules were unfair. It argued that, without
the option of making promotional offers to attract new customers, it was
unable to start a business in the German market.
Backing PolyGram’s claim, the commission says Germany should consider
less restrictive ways of protecting consumers over the direct marketing
of CDs and to follow the examples of France, Holland and Belgium.
The commission has given German officials two months to respond to its
ruling. If they do not, the case could be referred to the European Court
Advertising lobbyists, including the UK’s Advertising Association, have
been campaigning against Germany’s restrictions on direct marketing, as
well as France’s Loi Evin, which bans alcohol advertising, and the Greek
government’s severe constraints on the TV advertising of toys.
Representatives of Europe’s toy manufacturers have complained to the
European Ombudsman about the Greek restrictions, which ban toy
commercials being screened on Greek TV between 7am and 10pm.
Their letter claims the commission has allowed the restrictions to
continue unopposed for almost four years and accuses it of having
’failed administratively by its own standards’.
Lionel Stanbrook, deputy director-general of the Advertising
Association, said the PolyGram ruling, along with other protests by Air
Miles and American Express over the German laws, placed a big question
mark over them. ’I’m pleased about the decision but it only throws the
Greek and French situation into sharp relief,’ he said.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk