Looks like that’s a question that’s becoming more popular for local online marketers and bloggers. They all wonder if this super-wordy Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) memo requires them to apply for a permit to run contests and promotions online.
Janette Toral says “yes”
Janette Toral said last week that, yes, even bloggers holding contests that require no purchase have to get a DTI permit:
The answer is YES, individuals, bloggers, and businesses do need a DTI Sales Promotion Permit whenever they run an online or offline sales promotion even if there is no purchase required as you are targeting consumers to participate.
This is in compliance with the Consumer Act of the Philippines whose application to E-Commerce transactions is explained. (Note that the running of an online promotion, the activities that take place in it, whether commercial in nature or not, is an e-commerce transaction. The E-Commerce Law recognizes e-commerce as activities that can be commercial or non-commercial in nature.)
DTI NCR says “not necessarily”
Here’s what I don’t understand: the FAQ of DTI NCR website reads (emphasis mine):
Are there exemptions from permit requirements?
Permits for the following sales promotion activities need not be applied for:
- Competitions, except beauty contest conducted nationwide, which do not require the purchase, lease or payment of any consumer product or service or availment of consumer credit;
- Parlor games, whether held live during stage shows, parties, special occasions and/or utilizing any form of mass media. Provided, that the home partner of the winner is not required to purchase or lease any consumer product, service, or avail consumer credit facility, including the sending or presentation of any proof;
- Door prizes given to patrons of concerts, stage shows, stage plays, film shows, and similar activities;
- Instant sales promotion campaigns;
- In store promotions, such as, but not limited to price reduction promotions, discount sales and premium-in pack in which no advertisements are made on such sales promotion campaigns.
However, the DTI rules applying nationwide may be different from what applies in Metro Manila. In any case, my Google Chrome Giveaway Contest (where you can win exclusive Google merchandise with no purchase required! *wink*) will continue running.
An opportunity for Ms. Toral
I’m all for following laws, especially those that protect the average consumer (or web surfer) from snake oil salesmen and scammers. Yet if DTI permits are required even for promotions run on personal blogs, you can bet that practically no individual will run their own contests. Acquaintances within the “traditional” advertising industry love complaining about the DTI bureaucracy. Even this slideshow summarizing the permit application process shows how convoluted the it is:
Janette writes that an “idea suggested by a fellow blogger is for an association to cover us and negotiate with the government [on the behalf of bloggers] to carry out its own permit system.” Such a proposal just opens her up to the recurrent accusation that she just wants more control over the local online community.
Ms. Toral has characterized the recent dealings of her own IMMAP (Internet & Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines) with the DTI as representative of the local blogging community. As someone who has never been involved with IMMAP, I can tell you that’s not true.
A better idea would be to campaign that the DTI streamline its permit application process. Perhaps we can help the agency move everything online, and make the whole “system” more accessible? We don’t need a new “association” for that, especially if IMMAP has the resources (and contacts) to make that happen.