The American Chamber of Commerce in Macedonia (AmCham Macedonia) on Thursday, June 29th, organized an event in the spirit of promoting fair competition and responsible business conduct, by hosting a debate on ethical advertising in Macedonia. Top regional experts from this field presented at the event, in an effort to promote the critical role that self-regulation plays in the industry. Roughly 100 guests from the advertising industry, the broader business community, university representatives, international organizations and state institutions attended the event.
Participants had a chance to hear presentations from: Saso Pesev (MKD), Vanda Kučera (SRB), Kamilo Antolovic (CRO) and Stevan Randjelovic (European Association of Communications Agencies). Their presentations touched on globalization’s positive and negative impacts on the creative industry in small markets, the Serbian advertising industry’s approach to influencing relevant public policies there, the advantages of self-regulation of advertising in Croatia, as well as the major issues trending on the European policy stage in Brussels. Pesev highlighted copyright protection of artists as important area for improvement in Macedonia, citing a lack of local legal expertise as a major barrier. He said obvious conflicts of interest (e.g., joint ownership of PR and media organizations) and a very poor example being set by political campaigns in the country contributed to an environment where ad ethics did not generally receive the attention it deserves.
In the second part of the event, we had the opportunity to hear local professionals and their experiences with the efforts they make when trying to implement global advertising standards in their daily activities. Radmila Dimova (Mаkedonski Telekom AD) focused on her organization’s internal efforts to educate customers and prevent misleading claims. Our last presenter, Milos Radulovic (Alkaloid) discussed the lengths to which Alkaloid goes to tailor its ads to regulations and ethical standards in each market it is active. He compared and contrasted the extremely regulated ad approval process for pharmaceuticals vs. food and food supplements and he thought more needed to be done globally to prevent false and misleading claims.
Based on the discussion, AmCham’s Executive Director, Michelle Osmanli, concluded that all ad industry stakeholders needed to work proactively to raise ad standards and consumer awareness. She said that cooperation with consumer protection organizations, educational institutions and enforcement bodies was an important part of this effort. She also said stakeholders should insist on their voice being heard in the formulation of the key policies that impact them. Finally, stakeholders need to hold each other accountable for upholding ethical standards, including by going to court and pushing enforcement bodies to do more in this area.