Integrating Legal Reviews in the Marketing Process: A Balancing Act for Marketing and Compliance

By Jodie Byass

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Australia's marketing scene thrives on swift action. Campaigns need to be conceptualised, developed, and launched at lightning speed to capture fleeting trends and consumer preferences. But this emphasis on agility can sometimes clash with the meticulous world of legal compliance. Legal reviews, a crucial step in the marketing approval workflow, can feel like a bureaucratic roadblock, delaying launches and hindering creativity.

What if legal reviews weren't a speed bump, but rather a strategic checkpoint that strengthens your marketing initiatives?

The key lies in streamlining the legal review process in Australia, forging a collaborative relationship between marketing and compliance teams, and fostering a culture of proactive risk management.

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The Price of Skipping Legal Due Diligence

Taking shortcuts on legal reviews can have serious consequences for Australian businesses. Here's a glimpse into potential pitfalls:

  • Substantial Fines: Marketing campaigns that violate the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) or engage in misleading advertising practices can incur hefty fines from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). In 2020 alone, the ACCC issued over $130 million in penalties for breaches of the ACL, with several high-profile cases impacting marketing practices Source: ACCC Media Release . These fines not only impact your bottom line but can also damage your brand reputation.

  • Costly Lawsuits: Copyright infringement, trademark violations, and misleading claims can all lead to expensive lawsuits in Australia. A 2021 report by Lander & Rogers found that the average cost of legal disputes for businesses in Australia is over $100,000 Source: Lander & Rogers Report. Defending against such claims diverts resources from core marketing activities and can tarnish your brand image, even if the lawsuit is ultimately unsuccessful.

  • Reputational Damage: News of legal troubles travels fast in the digital age. Australian consumers are increasingly savvy and expect brands to operate ethically. A 2022 study by Edelman found that 80% of Australian consumers say they would stop buying from a brand they knew had misled them Source: Edelman Trust Barometer 2022. This can lead to a decline in sales and market share, making legal missteps a double-edged sword.

By taking the time to conduct thorough legal reviews, Australian businesses can avoid these costly pitfalls and ensure their marketing campaigns are compliant, ethical, and build trust with consumers.



Beyond Compliance: The Strategic Advantage of Legal Reviews

A well-conducted legal review goes beyond simply checking boxes. It can actually enhance the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns in the Australian market by:

  • Identifying Potential Issues Early: Catching legal risks early allows for course correction before significant resources are invested in a flawed campaign. This saves time and money in the long run.
  • Strengthening Brand Credibility: Australian consumers are increasingly savvy and wary of misleading marketing tactics. A legal review ensures your campaigns are truthful and transparent, fostering trust and brand loyalty.
  • Building a Competitive Advantage: In a crowded marketplace, brands that consistently deliver compliant and ethical marketing messages stand out from the competition.

 

Building Bridges Between Marketing and Compliance in Australia

Creating a synergistic relationship between marketing and legal is key to streamlining the review process in Australia. Here are some actionable steps:

  • Early Collaboration: Don't wait until the eleventh hour to involve legal. Integrate them into the planning stages of a campaign, allowing them to provide early guidance and suggest solutions to potential issues before significant creative work takes place.
  • Standardised Templates: Develop a library of pre-approved legal disclaimers, privacy notices, and terms and conditions for common marketing materials. This reduces the need for legal review on boilerplate content, freeing them to focus on more nuanced aspects of the campaign specific to the Australian legal landscape.
  • Internal Playbooks: Create clear and concise internal playbooks outlining legal considerations for different marketing channels (e.g., social media, email marketing, influencer partnerships) specific to Australia. This empowers marketing teams to self-assess their work and identify potential areas requiring legal review.
  • Dedicated Legal Resource: Consider assigning a dedicated legal resource to the marketing team. This point person can build a strong understanding of marketing strategies and provide tailored guidance throughout the campaign development process, ensuring compliance with Australian regulations.
  • Marketing Compliance Software: Explore marketing project management software with integrated compliance features specifically designed for marketing workflows. These tools can streamline communication, automate routing and tracking of legal requests, and provide a central repository for all campaign-related legal documents.

 

A Culture of Proactive Risk Management

Ultimately, creating a culture of proactive risk management within the marketing department is essential. Marketing teams should be trained to identify potential legal concerns specific to Australia and incorporate legal compliance best practices into their daily workflow. This empowers marketing professionals to be strategic partners with legal, not adversaries.

 

A Case Study: Mondelēz International Succeeds with Streamlined Reviews

Mondelēz International, a global snack giant with a significant presence in Australia (think Cadbury and Vegemite!), provides a powerful case study for the benefits of streamlined legal reviews.

The Challenge:  
Mondelēz International, operating in over 150 countries including Australia, needed a solution to streamline legal approvals for various marketing materials across diverse regions. The system needed to offer high-level visibility, improve accuracy, and be adaptable to the unique marketing workflows and legal requirements of each region, including Australia.

The Solution:
Mondelēz International found Admation to be a game-changer for their marketing approval process. Here's how the software's features addressed their specific needs:

  • Customisable Approval Pathways: Admation allowed them to tailor approval workflows to the intricacies of the Australian legal landscape. This ensured all marketing materials adhered to the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and other relevant regulations.
  • Approval Checklists: These pre-defined checklists ensured all necessary legal considerations were reviewed before a campaign went live. This acted as a failsafe, preventing potential legal issues from slipping through the cracks.
  • Online Proofing: Admation facilitated a smooth collaboration between marketing and legal teams. Reviewers could access marketing materials online, mark up potential issues, and provide clear feedback directly within the platform. This streamlined communication and expedited the review process.
  • Audit Trail of Approvals: Admation maintained a clear and detailed record of the entire approval process. This audit trail proved invaluable for demonstrating compliance with regulations and served as a valuable reference point for future campaigns.

 

The Benefits: A Win-Win for Marketing and Compliance

The implementation of Admation at Mondelēz International's operations resulted in a multitude of benefits:

  • Enhanced Legal Compliance: With Admation's features, regional legal teams gained greater control and visibility over approvals. This ensured marketing materials adhered to regulations across the different markets, minimising the risk of hefty fines and legal disputes.
  • Reduced Artwork Revisions: Identifying and addressing potential legal issues early in the process significantly reduced the need for rework on marketing materials. This saved Mondelēz International valuable time and resources, allowing them to launch campaigns more efficiently, with greater confidence.
  • Improved Asset Management: Admation provided a secure and centralised location for storing final, approved marketing assets in Australia. This facilitated easy access and sharing across departments and regions, streamlining collaboration and campaign execution.
  • Stronger Brand Reputation: Streamlined legal reviews fostered a culture of legal compliance within the  marketing team. This commitment to ethical marketing practices helped Mondelēz International maintain a strong brand reputation among consumers.

 

Conclusion: Collaboration is Key

The Mondelēz International case study exemplifies how streamlining legal reviews can be a win-win for both marketing and compliance teams. By fostering collaboration, leveraging technology like Admation, and building a shared understanding of legal considerations, marketing and compliance can work together to achieve their common goals. Streamlined legal reviews don't slow down the marketing process; they propel campaigns forward with confidence, ensuring compliance and fostering brand success in the Australian market.

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Looking Forward

Australian businesses can unlock the strategic value of legal reviews by adopting a collaborative approach. By integrating legal teams early, utilising the right tools, and training marketing teams to identify potential legal concerns, businesses can create a more efficient and effective marketing process. Ultimately, streamlined legal reviews contribute to driving brand success in the dynamic Australian market.