“Dealer advertising” is a broad term, and it includes any messages presented to the public promoting a product or a service. This means that messages posted to public social media accounts—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and others—face the same scrutiny as print or website advertising.
Social media focuses on using short messages to grab consumers’ attention, but you still need to provide proper disclosures and avoid crafting your message in a way that is deceptive or misleading.
You can meet the requirements of the law in one of two ways:
List all required disclosures within the body of the message.
Include required disclosures “one click away” by providing a link to the disclosures within the body of the message. If you use a link, you must direct consumers to the link to read the disclosures. You cannot assume a customer will click on any links or visit any other page beyond the advertisement itself, unless you give them a reason to do so. For example, the advertisement could state, “Click here for important disclosures: [LINK].” The link could also be highlighted with a different color, font, or symbol to draw the viewer’s interest.
If you choose to include a link one click away from the main advertisement, the disclosures in the link must be clear and conspicuous to the viewer. If the required disclosures are not immediately apparent upon opening the link, it is not considered “one click away.”
Social Media Posts by Individual Salespersons
When individual salespersons post advertisements for motor vehicles using their personal social media accounts, it must be clearly disclosed in the advertisement that the vehicle is sold by the dealership. For example, the advertisement could state: “Sold by [DEALER BUSINESS NAME].”
Wis. Admin Code Trans 139.03(11) requires that the selling dealership be identified in any advertisement. Contact information, such as phone number or e-mail address, must also correspond to the number and address used by the dealership. Individuals cannot list personal phone numbers or e-mail addresses in advertisements without also including contact information for the dealer. If you have any questions regarding dealer advertising, please contact Tristan Kloss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in Plain Dealings from WI DOT DMV Dealer & Agent Division April 2021 v. 32, no. 2