AmCham Macedonia Summer 2017 (Issue 54) - Page 7

Summer 2017 / Issue 54 telecommunications operators. Car importers were another group that drastically reduced their advertising spending due to a populist government decision to allow citizens to import used cars without any age or environmen- tal constraints. This move led to a drastic decline in sales of new vehicles, and hence importers’ advertising budgets. There was a downturn in adver- tising in the financial sector, even though banks, insurance com- panies and pension funds in the country Macedonia continued to realize strong profits throughout the crisis. Global corporations – which are the biggest advertisers in Macedonia – followed suit. They directed their budgets toward larger and more stable markets and began centralizing their mar- keting teams. This means adver- tising spending is done more often from headquarters, especially for Facebook, YouTube, Google, etc. In such cases, globaliza- tion generally does not benefit local agencies and media. This is also true for satellite stations like Sport Club, Arena, Discovery, Fox, HBO, which don’t translate to local ad spending with local agencies. While globalization is a reality everywhere, it poses espe- cially difficult challenges to small, underdeveloped markets like ours in Macedonia. While facing the crisis, the Macedonian advertising scene proved to be quite resilient and united through its industry asso- ciation, MAAM. The group suc- cessfully defended itself from a government attempt to national- ize the measurement of television viewership. Around the world, this activity is typically private with hardly any role for the State. Under pressure from MAAM and the media, a bylaw established the Joint Industry Committee to over- see an international tender inviting bids from the world’s largest ser- vice providers (e.g., Cantor Media, GFK and Nielsen). Many regional associations congratulated us on our success in regulating a pro- cess that elsewhere is still largely unregulated. Encouraged by this, MAAM initiated a Joint Industry Committee for online media and COVER STORY advertising. Slovenia is the only other country in our region where such a model exists. Regarding regulation of our work, though not consolidated in a single law, there are several laws that regulate advertising in detail. Additionally, under MAAM’s statute, there is a code of ethics that is in line with that of the European Association of Communication Agencies. The scope of advertising is regulated in various ways throughout EU countries, in some cases with very precise legis- lation, in others very loosely with an important role for self-regula- tion. This certainly means that our advertising industry functions along according to a set of ethical rules that ensure that our work is legal, decent, honest, truthful, with a sense of social responsi- bility toward clients and society. In terms of unethical behavior, perhaps the most pronounced has been in the PR sector, where we have unfair competition from companies whose owners are the main editors of some of the most important media in Macedonia. Lack of ethics on the social networks is appearing somewhat, which is also part of our business, yet this area is more difficult to control and regulate. However, with the Law on Audiovisual Media Services and the Law on Consumer Protection and other laws, as well as with the codes of MAAM and ZOYM, the Macedonian marketing scene is sufficiently regulated. The situation in political marketing is much worse; there, we have literally seen it all - dishonesty, untruths, insinuations, direct insults. However, in recent political campaigns, no agency has been officially identified nor taken credit/responsibility. To a large extent, the party’s election headquarters are doing that work, especially for negative ads. It is unclear whether Macedonia’s laws and codes for ethical advertising apply to such cases. Regulation of copyright and other related rights is likely lacking. The law hardly touches on agencies’ intellectual property. At least in my experien ce, there has never been a court case with respect to copyright infringement of any artist or agency. Given that there is no one in Macedonia who could serve as an expert witness in such a case, it is clear that such a dispute would be difficult to win in a Macedonian court. This situation definitely discourages agencies and creators to seek justice in court. Proving property rights is never an easy, straight-forward process. Arguments and disputes among creators occur constantly – even on a daily basis within an agency. As “creatives” or idea generators, artists can have rather inflated and sensitive egos. The fact that not a single case for copyright infringement has been settled in favor of an artist in Macedonia demonstrates the lack of confidence that citizens and the business community have in the impartiality and objectivity of the courts here. AmCham Macedonia Magazine 7