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When it comes to legal compliance for marketing, don’t just be a lawyer

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By Anna Lozynski, Freelance General Counsel and Legal influencer.

27 May 2022

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Since I moved in-house permanently in 2008, I have been working with the marketing teams of some of the world’s biggest advertisers being General Motors (USD2.2 billion in 2020) and L’Oréal (10.59 billion Euros in 2021).

I’ll never forget the first time a marketer told me that I was “ruining” their campaign with my terms and conditions. How could I fail to understand the aesthetics? Did I not care about disappointing the consumer? Why are we the only company in the industry who is being compliant?

Lawyers don’t go to law school and learn about marketing (even today), and marketers don’t always study a law elective as part of their degrees. On so many levels, we sit on polar opposite of professional spectrums in terms of the skills we use and the way we solve problems. Let alone our mindsets around pushing boundaries.

Give a scenario to a lawyer and it’s likely they will immediately start thinking about all the things that could go wrong (Hello Compliance and Business Reputation). Conversely, if you give a scenario to a marketer, it’s likely that they will immediately start thinking about all the things that could go right (Hello Creativity and Consumer Engagement).

From the get go, I knew I had a lot to learn from my marketing colleagues and their advertising agencies. For one, they are far more agile and accustomed to collaborating together for the benefit of a client account.

Once I was leading a legal department, I wanted to ensure that Marketing entrusted Legal as part of its working team - as business enablers and not business blockers.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” –Jeff Bezos

Here’s a summary of the friction that is common between the two functions:

Challenges experienced by In-House Legal

Not referring to and learning from previous legal advice on a similar campaign or issue

In-house legal has to provide repeated advice on identical issues

Being briefed on a marketing campaign too late

In-house legal is placed under significant pressure to be responsive in the face of competing priorities

Marketing provides 80% of the necessary information

In-house legal cannot provide complete advice causing perceived delays and review inefficiencies

Challenges experienced by Marketing

Legal provides input at the end, or when it’s too late, as the campaign feels ready to go

Eleventh hour changes are required across the campaign potentially impacting deadlines

Marketing is advised of all the legal risks but not provided acceptable options

The campaign feels less impactful, and in-house legal are seen as unhelpful

Time sensitive requests from Marketing are not received by in-house legal, buried in the sea of stakeholder emails

The campaign launch and timing is impacted adversely, or the team goes ahead and publishes potentially non-compliant material which then needs to be withdrawn or updated.

Here’s how technology can help transform the issues between marketers and lawyers:

1. Need for Speed, especially in an online world

If you’re in FMCG, you’ll know consumer trade promotions attract a high volume of activity, and legal compliance. The regulations around this activity in Australia are disjointed and onerous.

In my last role, the first piece of legal technology we deployed across the marketing functions was Promotions Wizard.

It was a breath of tension free air to have marketers autonomously be able to log onto Plexus Gateway, brief in their promotion 24/7, and to be able to transparently see the status of their request at any time. Marketers were thrilled that legal review time improved from an average of one week to 24 hours guaranteed. Further, using Plexus generated a 35% saving (even with a human in the loop managing the technology service in the background) versus external law firm costs.

2. Better instructions, first time

After receiving resounding positive feedback from marketers about the Promotions Wizard app, we were excited to deploy the Marketing Wizard app as soon as it became available.

Lawyers can create all of the checklists in the world, but human error and competing priorities will usually have marketers forget one or two items in the brief to Legal. This causes inefficiency and frustrations, as described above.

That’s the best part of Plexus Gateway’s in-built automated briefing form: mandatory fields.

If your organisation is asking for Legal to review thousands of pieces of marketing collateral a year - that’s a substantial amount of back-and-forth email time to be saved through automation, and getting the brief to Legal right, the first time.

3. Centralisation of knowledge and data

Marketer: “But Legal has signed off on this before”.

In-House Lawyer: “Hmm, but actually have they?”

There’s nothing more powerful than to be able to, on the spot, log onto a system and perform a search to verify this very point.

It’s also very powerful to be able to report back to each brand on how much marketing collateral, as a department, is being legally reviewed and the corresponding timelines for review. In case your marketers think the Legal team isn’t working hard enough for them.

For example, a monthly report to marketing to confirm 98 pieces of marketing collateral were reviewed within 24 hours at a review rate of 95% has value written all over it. It’s hard to pack that same messaging punch based on emails and manual processes.

4. Don’t just be a lawyer

These are the words Elon Musk tweeted last year.

What does one of the most innovative humans mean by this statement? You can read more about it here.

Interested in learning more about legal transformation? Learn about current trends, measuring and communicating legal value and how legal leaders are building influence within their organisations. You can also speak with one of our Legal Transformation Consultants:

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