The Industry Brought Self-Declaration Upon Itself: Sanjeev Kotnala

The Industry Brought Self-Declaration Upon Itself: Sanjeev Kotnala

If the advertising industry fails to act better, the government will change their ‘mild rap on the knuckles’ to something harder.

Sanjeev KotnalaUpdated: Monday, June 17, 2024, 08:13 AM IST
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The advertising industry has long grappled with ethical behaviour and fair play issues. A significant problem is misleading campaigns by knowledgeable insiders. One expects educated senior client representatives to act ethically and responsibly. However, the experience is different. They resort to unjustified actions, believing their actions will go unchallenged. The absence of substantial penalties and the slow pace of arbitration exacerbate the situation, turning guideline violations into perceived acts of cleverness rather than infractions.

Industry associations are passive observers, unable to impose penalties or ensure compliance due to their limited mandate. A paradigm shift is needed towards effective and efficient solutions promoting ethical behaviour.

Many solutions have been discussed and discarded. Though self-regulation is preferred, it requires a robust self-regulatory body with a broader scope and decisive powers. We realise that we, as an industry, have failed the consumers.

So, the government has asked the advertisers to SELF-Declare that the advertisement does not make misleading claims and complies with all the guidelines. Upload the declaration to the Broadcast Sewa portal.  

The advertising industry sees a problem with self-declaration. They should have welcomed a possible solution and worked to see how it could be collectively coordinated, co-developed and efficiently implemented.

Get back the Key Number. And the key number represents the advertiser. Let a few authorised representatives have the security key to sign the document- which can be done anywhere at any time. Let this key number be used for the creative irrespective of the medium. 

It can be a one-time authorisation to the representative and must be a self-declaration signed before the communication is exposed. 

It cannot and must not be limited to one medium, which should automatically apply to social media advertising posts by the brand or influencers. Similarly, it must be discussed and applied to the local small advertisers and influencers. The media and agencies may help educate the clients and implement the solution. 

In the era of strong digital experience and infrastructure, it should not deter loading the document or affect moment marketing or multiple creatives. Yes, in the case of AI-assisted multiple creatives, it may seem daunting. If the client and agency believe in their creativity, the AI can create the certificates, or a blank-themed declaration is possible.  

If not this, then what? - we need a solution to this perennial problem, and now. Indeed, an extension of the impending deadline is needed for the industry to gear up to coordinate and create the processes with the government.

And if the industry fails to act now, this consumer-oriented government can change this mild rap on the knuckles into something hard. What if the certification is pushed onto the media owners, and they are made a party to the claim? We don’t want a DD Storyboard approval process. 

(The author is the Brand and Marketing Consultant at Intradia World)

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