Since it can be quite costly to conduct advertising activities, investors are advised to learn about relevant Vietnamese regulations to prevent unwanted violations.
How to advertise legally
Commercial advertisements containing subjects eligible for protection of intellectual property rights must be consented by owners of such subjects.
The commercial for Evian Mineral Water featuring the character Spider-Man from Marvel
Traders may incorporate a comparison between their goods and counterfeit goods or intellectual property right-infringing goods in commercial advertisement products after obtaining the competent state management agency’s certification that such counterfeit goods or intellectual property right-infringing goods are used for comparison.
The People’s Court of Binh Duong Province declared that Hao Hang Noodles had infringed the intellectual property rights of Hao Hao Noodles by Acecook.
Therefore, it is not considered illegal if Hao Hao Noodles compare their products with those of Hao Hang Noodles in their advertisements after having received a confirmation from a competent authority regarding such affair.
It is prohibited to take advantage of children’s inexperience to incorporate in advertisement products information that:
- might abate children’s trust in their family and society;
- directly suggests or stimulates children to ask their parents or other persons to purchase advertised goods or services;
- convinces children to believe that using the advertised goods or services might give them certain advantages over those who do not;
- forms in children ideas, words or acts against morality, fine traditions and customs, or negatively affects their health, safety, or normal development.
Commercial advertisements for veterinary drugs, plant protection drugs, fertilizers, livestock feed, livestock breeds and plant varieties must not contain the following:
- Affirmation of safety and non-toxicity without certifications of competent state management agencies;
- Affirmation of effect and utility of veterinary drugs, plant protection drugs, fertilizers, livestock feed, livestock breeds or plant varieties without scientific evidence;
- Verbal or written words or images violating the procedures and methods for safe administration of veterinary drugs or plant protection drugs.
In regards of goods subject to technical standards and regulations on goods quality, traders may only conduct commercial advertisements after such goods are issued technical standard or regulation conformity certificates by competent state management agencies or have their quality standards published.
Example: Windows and doors made by EUROWINDOW are granted the Certificate of conformity with national technical standards QCVN 16:2014/BXD and therefore permitted to be advertised.
Certificate of Conformity and advertising image of EUROWINDOW
In case of advertisements that contain both Vietnamese and a foreign language, the foreign font size must not exceed three quarters of the Vietnamese text and must be placed below the Vietnamese text; on radio, TV or other audio-visual media, the Vietnamese text must be read before the foreign text.
Di Buu Restaurant’s advertising sign using both Vietnamese and English is in compliance with regulations
Article 18 of the 2012 Law on Advertising;
Article 21, 22, 23, 25, and 26 of Decree No. 37/2006/ND-CP.
Advertising conditions applicable to certain business sectors
Having the Certificate of Business Registration when advertising goods and services.
Foreign enterprises must have Business Registration Certificate granted by overseas authorities and consular legalized.
When advertising products, goods and services, documents proving their conformity and qualification must be presented.
Example: To advertise Khanh Duoc Functional Food, Ich Nhan Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. must have a Certificate of food safety and hygiene issued by the Ministry of Health.
Having the ownership certificate or the use right certificate when advertising property of which the ownership certificate or use right certificate is compulsory.
When advertising the Nam Vien villa area in Phu My Hung Urban Area, Phu My Hung Company must have a Certificate of land use rights and ownership of houses and other assets attached to the land.
The advertisements of special products, goods and services must satisfy the following conditions:
When advertising medicines, it is necessary to ensure that:
- The medicines are allowed to be advertised as prescribed by law provisions on medicines;
- The Circulation License remains valid in Vietnam;
- The medicine instructions are approved by the Ministry of Health.
Circulation Permit of Trang Vi Khang medicine
Having the Cosmetics Announcement Sheet as prescribed by provisions on medicines when advertising cosmetics.
Having the Circulation Registration Certificate issued by the Ministry of Health when advertising domestic and medical chemicals, pesticides and antiseptic.
When advertising milk and dietary products for young children, it is compulsory to have:
- The Standard Certificate;
- Food Safety and Hygiene Certificate for dietary products domestically produced;
- Product Quality Certificate issued by the producing country and Circulation License for imported dietary products.
Having the Certificate of conformity to food safety regulations when advertising food and food additives (for products without national technical regulations), or having the standard announcement dossier receipt from a competent state agency.
Having the Practice Qualification Certificate issued by the Health Ministry or Health Department when advertising medical examination and treatment services.
Having the Circulation License when advertising domestically produced medical equipment or import license for imported medical equipment.
Having the plant protection drugs registration certificate when advertising plant protection medicine or plant protection drug materials.
Having the plant quarantine certificate issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development when advertising useful organisms for plant protection.
Having the circulation license and the product property summary sheet when advertising veterinary medicines and equipment.
Having the Product Quality Certificate or the written product quality announcement when advertising fertilizers, biological preparations serving farming, animal feed and biological preparations serving breeding.
Article 20 of the 2012 Law on Advertising.
Use of advertising means
Advertisement on newspapers
The advertisement area must not exceed 15% of the total area of a newspaper, or 20% of the total area of a magazine.
The Saigon Times has an area of 28cm x 20.5cm x 40 pages = 22.960cm2.
Therefore, area for advertisement not exceeding 15% is 3.444cm2, equivalent to 6 pages.
A written notification concerning the publishing of advertising supplements must be sent to the competent authority at least 30 days prior to the first release date.
Advertisement on radio and television
The advertisement duration must not exceed 10% of the total broadcast duration in a day of a broadcasting organization (except for channels and programs specialized in advertising).
Notice: The advertisements and advertising channels and programs must be distinguishable from other contents, channels and programs.
The advertisement duration on paid television must not exceed 5% of the total broadcast duration in a day of a broadcasting organization (except for channels and programs specialized in advertising).
Example: K+PC is a paid TV channel, broadcasting 24 hours per day. The advertisement duration must not exceed 5%, equivalent to a maximum of 1 hour 20 minutes per day.
Advertisements are banned from the news, live radio and television broadcasts of special political events or national anniversaries.
Each movie program must not be interrupted for advertising more than twice; each time no more than 5 minutes.
Each entertainment program must not be interrupted for advertising more than 4 times, each time no more than 5 minutes.
Advertisements displayed in the form of running text or a series of animated pictures, although not included in the television advertisement duration, must be put at the bottom of the screen and cannot exceed 10% of the screen height or affect the main contents of the program.
Sai Gon Nguyen Kim Shopping Center’s running text ads in The Voice program
Advertisement on electronic newspapers and websites
The advertisements must not be designed and placed among the news;
The unfixed advertisements must be designed so that the reader may actively activate or inactivate the advertisements. The maximum activation latency of the advertisements is 1.5 seconds.
“No Thanks” button to turn off advertisement for the Grab App
Advertising by sending text messages and emails
Text messages and emails can only be sent with prior consent from the receiver.
It must be ensured that the receiver reserves the right to refuse any advertisement; emails and messages must be stopped as soon as the receiver notifies their refusal; and no service fees will be charged for refusal notifications.
VietnamWorks’ advertising email includes an “Unsubcribe” button at the end as specified by law.
Electronic information and telecommunication service providers are only permitted to:
- send text messages and emails to advertise their own services;
- send text messages to telephones from 7 am to 10 pm;
- It is prohibited to send more than 3 advertising text messages to one telephone number or more than 3 emails to one email address within 24 hours, unless otherwise agreed by the receiver.
Advertisement on print media
Advertisements regarding the authors, the writings and the publishers must only be placed on the second, third and fourth covers of a book, except for advertising books.
The Intelligent Investor with an ad for the author, Benjamin Graham, on the second cover
For non-business documents, only the advertisements for the author, the work the publication, or the symbol, logo, brand name, and activities of the organizations and individuals allowed to publish such documents are permitted.
The total area of advertisement must not exceed 20% of the area of the following items: pictures, photographs, posters, catalogues, fliers, and leaflets with contents of political, economic, cultural, social, scientific, technological, literal, and artistic propagation and dissemination.
The symbol, logo, and brand name of the advertisers must be put at the bottom of the print product.
Mobifone Telecom Services Company’s helmet promotion banner with the advertising logo being placed at the bottom, occupying 20% of the banner area
Advertisements are prohibited from being printed on money or valuable papers, certificates and state management documents.
Advertisement in audio and video records
The advertisement duration in audio and video records of programs on cultures, art, movies, or audio and video records being book substitutes or book illustration must not exceed 5% of the program duration.
Example: The duration of the songs in a singer’s album is 60 minutes total, thus the duration of advertisement should not exceed 3 minutes.
Advertisement on transportations
The advertisements must not be displayed on the front, the back and the roof of the vehicle;
The advertisement area must not exceed 50% area of each permissible side of the vehicle.
An appropriate advertisement on a public bus
Signboards of business and production activities
The signboard must include: name of the direct managing agency; name of the production and/or business facility; address; and phone number.
Horizontal signboards: maximum height is 2 meters while the length must not exceed the width of the property’s front.
Vertical signboards: maximum width is 1 meter and the maximum height is 4 meters but must not exceed the height of the floor where the signboard is located.
The signboards must not block the emergency exit and firefighting equipment and not encroaching pavements or roads.
An appropriate signboard of the Mobile World shop
Advertisement on advertising screens
Sounds must not be used in advertisements on outdoor advertising screens.
This activity must comply with the local planning.
Advertising screen by Coca Cola at the Nguyen Van Troi – Tran Huy Lieu junction, Ho Chi Minh City
Advertisement using loudspeakers and similar forms
The noise level of the advertisements must not exceed the approved level as prescribed by legal provisions on the environment;
It is prohibited to advertise at state’s office headquarters, armed force units, schools, and hospitals;
It is prohibited to advertise on the radiobroadcast system serving the political duties of the commune, district, or town;
It is prohibited to advertise by using loudspeakers attached to means of transport and other vehicles in urban areas or towns.
Advertisement on billboards and banners
Must comply with provisions on historical relic protection area, traffic safety corridor, dykes and electric networks;
Must not block out traffic lights and public road signs;
Must not be placed across the roads.
Heineken’s advertising billboards in Ho Chi Minh City
Currently, it is not required to obtain a license for these advertising media; only a notification to the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism is needed.
Procedures of notification
For further details on the dossier of billboard and banner advertisement notification please read here.
Investors only need to provide the following documents in order to receive PLF’s support in notifying billboard-banner advertisements and consultation on advertisement implementation in accordance with the law:
- Certificate of Business Registration;
- Documents proving goods’ conformity with standards and specifications.
The construction of outdoor advertising screens, signboards, independent billboards or billboards attached to another existing construction must be issued with a construction license.
Advertisement in sports events and cultural programs
Advertisements must not be placed at the same height or higher than the symbol, logo or name of the program; the font size of the advertisements must not exceed 1/2 of the font size of the program name.
Advertisements placed on stage must be aesthetically pleasing and must not block the audience’s vision.
Advertisements in stadiums, gymnasiums, and locations where sports events take place:
- must not block out the National flag, the National emblem, the leader’s picture, professional guidelines, and the audience’s vision;
- must not affect the training, competition and performance of athletes and trainers’ instructions and the execution of organizers, referees, guides, medics, and other attendants.
Advertising performer team (Roadshow)
The advertising performer team is a team with 3 people or above that wear costumes or carry pictures and items showing the advertisement products at a fixed location or on the roads.
When conducting an advertising activity using a performer team, the individuals who organize and implement the activity must:
- Ensure traffic and social safety and order; comply with the provisions on advertising activities;
- Notify the local competent authority in charge of advertising at least 15 days before the advertisement.
Article 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, and 36 of the 2012 Law on Advertising.
Products requiring advertising content verification
Traders who plan to advertise special products must apply for a Verification of advertising contents pursuant to regulations of specialized management.
Verification of advertising contents is mandatory for the following products:
- Plant protection drugs;
- Veterinarian drugs;
- Fertilizers and bio-preparations.
Example: Foods subject to Verification of contents for advertising include:
- Functional foods;
- Micronutrient-fortified foods;
- Mineral water;
- Bottled water;
- Food additives, food processing aids;
- Tools and materials used for packaging food during production, processing, and trading.
Conditions for certification of advertising contents:
- The effect is exactly as announced;
- The following must be correct: product name; origin of goods, name and address of producer and importer; effects of product; warnings about use of product; usage and preservation instructions;
- Functional foods specifically must have a disclaimer, such as “This product is not medicine and does not replace medications”, printed on the packaging.
Dossiers of registering for Verification of foods advertising contents are rather complicated, please refer to the full list here.
Traders looking for PLF’s assistance in obtaining a Verification of advertising contents for special products, please contact PLF.
Article 43 of the 2010 Law on Food Safety;
Article 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of Circular No. 08/2013/TT-BYT;
Article 61 and 62 of Circular No. 21/2015/TT-BNNPTNT;
Chapter VII of Circular No. 13/2016/TT-BNNPTNT;
Prohibited acts in advertising
Advertising the following products, goods, or services:
- Wine with 15 degree alcohol or above;
- Breast milk substitutes for children under 2 years old, dietary supplements for children under 6 months old; artificial feeding bottles and pacifiers;
- Prescription drugs and non-prescription drugs to be used restrictively or under doctor’s supervision;
- Pornographic products;
- Shotguns and cartridges, sporting weapons and products that might incite violence;
- Drugs with recommendation;
- Other products, goods and services banned from advertising.
Advertisements that reveal secrets of the government and harm the independence and national sovereignty of Vietnam.
Advertising inartistically and contrary to Vietnamese history, culture, ethics and traditional customs.
Advertisements that affect urban scenery, traffic safety and social order.
Advertisements that negatively affect the National flag, the National emblem, the National anthem, the Party’s flag, national heroes, cultural notables, and leaders of the State and the Party.
Advertisements that express racial discrimination, sexual discrimination, prejudice against disabled people, or violate the freedom of belief and religion.
Advertisements that offend the prestige, honor and dignity of other organizations and individuals.
Advertisements that contain an individual’s pictures, words or texts without his/her consent.
Advertising incorrectly or causing confusion about business competence and ability to provide products, goods and services of organizations and individuals trading and providing such products, goods and services; about the quantity, quality, etc. of the registered or announced products, goods and services.
Advertising using direct comparison of prices, quality and efficiency to other products, goods and services of the same kind.
Advertising using the words “best”, “the best”, “only”, “number one” or words with similar meaning without legitimate documents proving so.
Advertising using unfair competition contents.
Advertisements that violate provisions on intellectual property.
Advertisements that make children think, speak and act against the traditional customs and ethics; negatively affect the children’s health, safety or natural development.
Forcing others to advertise or receive advertisements involuntarily.
Hanging, placing, sticking, or painting advertisements on electric poles, traffic lights and trees in public places.
Article 109 of the 2005 Commercial Law;
Article 7 of the 2012 Law on Advertising.