Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Complain about it!

How many times have you ever heard someone complain about an advertising campaign, whether it is in the metro, in the newspaper, on TV, or whereverelse? Me, a lot. When advertisers don't respect Consumer Sovereignty (in terms of vulnerability, information and choice), the advert could be shocking for ethical reasons (stereotype, vulnerable target group, controversial image, offensive ad, playing with people's fear, misleading, manipulation, false promises, wrong information, etc.). Let me tell you what Belgians can do:

Complain about it
to the Jury of advertising ethics (in French: the Jury d'Ethique Publicitaire - JEP) in Brussels, Belgium. This self-regulating organ (advertising and marketing self-regulation is a system by which the advertising, marketing, agency and media industry set voluntary rules and standards of practice that go beyond their legal obligations) of the Belgian advertising sector was created in 1974 by the Advertising council (Conseil de la Publicité) whose members are advertisers, communication agencies and media.
"To get the customers' trust, the ad must be healthy and responsible". JEP 

The JEP is actually responsible for reviewing advertising messages in the medias, so that they comply with the rules of advertising ethics, which are based on laws and self-regulatory codes. It has a twofold mission:
  1. It investigates complaints from the customers themselves (us) filled on their website or by postal mail, and not from companies or organizations with commercial purposes.
  2. It deals with requests for advice which are freely submitted by advertisers, communication agencies and media.

The  Commission on Marketing and Advertising from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which meets twice a year and examines major marketing and advertising related policy issues introduced a Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice in 1937. This self-regulation has served as the foundation and cornerstone for the codes of most self-regulatory systems around the world. It also promotes high standards of ethics in marketing, which something I think is important to regulate. Unfortunately, it seems quite hard to keep up with new practices.

In countries with self-regulatory systems, e.g. the JEP in Belgium, the public can complain about an offensive ad. It is the only thing one can do to have it banned of the streets for good ;)

However, some companies use shocking ads to make people react. And it works! I'd say that advertising and marketing communications can be used to something else than making profits with false arguments.

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