12.7.2016

What is too risqué for Holiday Season messaging

During the Holiday season, it can feel like barking into the wind when it comes to getting your message out. Everyone else is trying to make the most out of the most profitable time of the retail year, which essentially means everyone else is barking, too.

With so much barking on, sometimes it feels like you have to put a little bite in your bark to get noticed.

But before you go sharpening the incisors of your signage during this time of peace and joy, remember to pay attention to a few legal governing bodies, in addition to your customer niche. No sense giving the government the gift of fines.

Rule of Thumb

According to the Cornell University Law website, obscenity laws usually follow three rules of thumb:

  1. "whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ appeals to ‘prurient interest"
  2. "whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law"
  3. "whether the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

And double check your applicable local, state, and federal obscenity laws

The best thing to check is the same levels of government you had to go through to get your signage permit. Remember to check with both your city / township as well as your county. Sometimes those laws can have varying restrictions. You'll want to make sure your messages complies with the sharpest of obscenity laws.

Then, double-check how they apply with federal laws, looking for instances where precedence was set in your area.

Conferring with your legal counsel before getting to risqué would be something we would do. Granted, we'll get as risqué as a vanilla sunday, but our clients come from all walks of life.

Once again, we're not giving legal advice, but if it was us, we'd probably mind our p's and q's before we look to rewrite the rules. That way, we'd be in better position to act were anything to go sideways.

Contact us today if you have more questions on the do's and don'ts of signage messaging.


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