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Understanding China's latest advertising regulations: Navigating the red line and compliance strategies for overseas brands
Source: | Author:Clara | Published time: 2023-03-15 | 1063 Views | Share:

World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated annually on March 15th to raise global awareness about consumer rights and needs. The 315 program protects consumers from illegal advertising and marketing ploys in China, punishing violators. Its main objective is to expose various marketing ploys and illegal advertising in the market and severely crack down on and punish any illegal commercial marketing propaganda. During this special period,  advertisers and brand owners should ensure compliance with the Advertising Law during this period.

International brands often overlook China's online advertising restrictions. To avoid violating China's advertising laws, brands must understand the original intention of product promotion. Thus, how can companies comply with China's legal restrictions and effectively reach their target customers? Let's explore "China's latest online advertising regulations."

1) The Advertising Law imposes strict restrictions on goods and services related to consumers' physical and mental health and property safety

The current Advertising Law (amended on April 24, 2015, effective September 2015) imposes comprehensive restrictions on advertising for goods and services in many industries. These can be classified into 'total ban' and 'strict restriction.'

2) 'Total ban' advertising

The advertising law generally prohibits advertisements for tobacco products, non-currency or foreign exchange products, gambling, pornography, violence, and drugs. In addition, controversial topics such as religion, spirituality, superstition, or taboo topics are not allowed in advertisements.

3) 'Strictly restricted' advertising

Advertising laws restrict the following five categories of goods and services.


Restrictions on industries under advertising laws

The characteristics of easily restricted advertisements are summarized in the table below. The Advertising Law mainly regulates the content of advertisements for goods and services with a high incidence of illegal advertising. Additionally, the red line of China's Advertising Law is drawn to protect people's physical and mental health and property safety.

To help you understand which advertisements are the key targets of regulation under the Advertising Law, we have included some case pictures below.


Advertisements related to politics: the platform illegally uses national elements and images


Illegal financial advertising

2.  To avoid legal issues, brands should avoid using "risk words" in advertising.

       To navigate the complex and competitive market environment, brands must prioritize risk prevention in their advertising and adhere to the laws governing online advertising. A crucial step in advertising is to avoid using sensitive or inappropriate promotional language. To save time, this article provides a list of common types of risky language to help guide advertisers.


Common types and examples of risk words

To illustrate how these risky terms can lead to advertising violations, this article provides two examples of past infractions:

1)  Fraudulent and misleading advertising

In the case of the fake advertisement for "Easy Home", the company published an ad on WeChat and city bus ads claiming consumers could win a Mercedes-Benz, receive free home appliances, and purchase items for as low as 3.16RMB. However, the ad did not match the actual situation and misled consumers, resulting in a 300,000 yuan fine for the company."


" Easy Home" once involved in advertising case

2)  False and exaggerated advertising

In the Meixian drug advertising case, a pharmacy promoted their "Ming Lebao" Xiaomeng tablet with claims of an "effective rate close to 100%" while advertising their "Valley of Fire King" rheumatism joint tablet with the promise of "fast cure bone disease, never relapse." A pamphlet promoting the "Shentuowon Dan" Qingxuan Antiparalysis pills contained information such as "fully recover to normal in 90 days." As a result, the pharmacy was fined 13,000 yuan.

Therefore, to enter the Chinese market successfully, brands must stay current with the latest changes to China's Advertising Law and take prompt and effective action to avoid potential risks.

If you want to learn about more advertising risks, please get in touch with us at

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