AmCham Macedonia Summer 2017 (Issue 54) - Page 9

Summer 2017 / Issue 54 approved on an international level starts with the following words: All marketing communications should be legal, decent, honest and truthful. All marketing communi- cations should be prepared with a due sense of social and professional responsibility and should conform to the principles of fair competition, as generally accepted in business. No communication should be such as to impair public confidence in marketing. By including just these three sen- tences into the DNA of our work, we take a big step toward ethical com- munications and advertising. The next step in establishing self-regulatory activities in a market is by founding a self-regulatory orga- nization (SRO) to enforce the Code of Conduct. This is where countries differ a lot! For example, all current EU members already had adopted a Code of Conduct in advertising prior to accession. However, not all of them had the same level of SRO activity. Hungary, for example, had an active self-regulatory organization for over 20 years; Bulgaria has been working on it since 2001 and has had a functioning SRO for the last 7 years; in the past couple of years, Croatia activated an SRO, the Court of Honor, within the Croatian Associ- ation of Advertising Agencies. The most inspirational example is provided by Spain, where self-reg- ulation has quite simply taken over. They started reservedly, unsure whether that they would manage to regulate anything significantly; that was some twenty years ago. When agencies and advertisers made a deal and were joined by TV stations and the rest of the media (note: TV stations there are now the biggest users of SRO), their success was complete. They are now the best example among all the members of the European Advertising Standards Alliance. State institutions and regu- lators defer to them on questions of right or wrong; what a victory for the profession! So, where is Serbia in that dynamic, continuously self-regulating world? COVER STORY Historically, we had a number of different phases and attempts in this direction. The most recent one started several years ago and accomplished quite a lot in a short time by working and learning at the same time. We are now closer to those markets which “clean their own backyards”. We are supported by EASA as well as regional experts. The Serbian branch of the International A dvertising Association (IAA) also played a very important role in this process. Four years ago, the IAA began establishing Serbia self-regulation. We created the first version of the Serbian National Code of Advertising based on the consolidated Code of Conduct of the International Chamber of Commerce and numerous similar doc- uments. The Code was endorsed by most experts and relevant associations. In the meantime, the IAA organized two conferences on self-regulation and SROs, featuring experienced colleagues from the region, Spain and from international organizations. The new Advertising Law, aligned with EU directives, went into force in May 2016. This new law has a very important addition in Arti- cle 5 called Business Rules: in other words, self-regulation. Our profession fought long and hard for this. We now have a Code as well as a new Law that generally addresses the profession’s needs and expectations and explicitly recognizes self-regulation as a legitimate means of regulation. All we have to do now is officially establish our SRO. In addition to enforcing our Code, we also need a system to protect, build and empower brands and advertisers; build the credibility of agencies and help the media, given they are on the front line with respect to controversial adver- tising messages. Such a system will do a better job protecting consumers and earning their trust. To conclude, Serbia is close to “cleaning up its own backyard”. Self-regulation is faster, more efficient and simpler. Through self-regulation, the industry is becoming an active interlocutor with lawmakers, which also means assuming a lot of responsibil- ity! To us as an industry, responsibility is a very meaningful word, because it results in higher ethical standards! AmCham Macedonia Magazine 9