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The $1,200 payments to 80 million Americans “were not intended by the federal government to sell cars,” says Hendrick.

Sensibility Should Guide Auto Dealers’ Virus-Related Advertising

“Come on down for your COVID-19 bargain” is inviting regulator attention.

Shannon Robertson recalls seeing a car dealership billboard ad urging people to put a down payment on a new car using the $1,200 economic-aid money the federal government gave them as part of a COVID-19-related economic stimulus package.

Roberson_Shannon (2).jpgSuch advertising is inappropriate, Robertson, senior vice president of the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals, says during a webinar put on by the Assn. of Dealership Compliance Officers. (Robertson, left)

Fellow webinar guest Randy Henrick agrees.

The $1,200 payments to 80 million Americans “were not intended by the federal government to sell cars,” says Henrick, an attorney specializing in laws affecting dealerships. A state attorney general or the Federal Trade Commission could bridle at that sales approach, he adds.

Robertson and Henrick point out dealership advertising to avoid during the virus pandemic.

“Using the coronavirus as a selling point or advertising to people affected by it could be considered unfair and deceptive,” Henrick says. “Be careful about using the virus as a sales tool.”

Accordingly, think twice before running an ad saying something like, "Click here to get your great cornonavirus deal."

In an earlier webinar put on by the National Automobile Dealers Assn., an attorney also urged dealers to take care with coronavirus-related advertising.

“Marketing should be tasteful,” says Aaron Jacoby, managing partner at Arent Fox law firm. “But anything else – such as ‘Come on down for your COVID-19 bargain’ – is inviting regulator attention.”


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