A view on global advertising regulatory issues | ICP

Navigating the global regulatory minefield

Monday November 5, 2012

A considered view on any channel’s legal/regulatory issues (TV/Music/Press etc.)

Large international agency networks have always had an inbuilt advantage over local outfits in that they can attend to regulatory issues immediately because they have ‘feet on the ground’ in many countries. McCann Erickson was always famous for its ability to put a poster for Coca-Cola up by ‘next week’ in 130 countries with all their differing requirements of language, custom and morals and not to get it wrong.

However, whilst there are several large ad agency groups – WPP, Omnicom etc. - that presumably are still enjoying internal benefits from having an extensive network, there is a whole new generation of smaller but world-class creative agencies and production companies that will have to manage their output in a much more complicated environment than ever before. This is partly driven by new-media, which has allowed everyone unimaginable ease of access to a worldwide audience, but also due to today’s acceptance of creative work that can come from anywhere. The need to pay attention to legal and regulatory issues outside of their regular environs has not gone away though.

We are local. We have just shot a commercial for a UK brand, in Norway, for broadcasting in the US. The copy clearance regulations demanded certain script variants for the US, which won’t apply in the European markets the spot is next scheduled to run in. Good job we checked.

Today, it is imperative that you take care to observe the social, legal and copyright conventions of each separate market in turn. You just cannot adopt the ‘one size fits all’ approach to your creative output any more.

Take music copyright for instance. The music business, whilst still being concentrated in the hands of a few huge publishers – mainly in the US and Europe - such as Universal and Bertelsmann, has a host of licensing arrangements and sub-deals with distributors in other countries. Sorting out the rights usage for any commercial or TV programme can become an issue of nightmarish cost and complication.

Similarly with artists, photographers, third-party content etc. In our own area (TV & Digital), one of the current issues that will have to be dealt with – and soon - is the plummeting quality of expertise in production, that has happened just as there is an explosion of production requirements for e-commerce and the commercialisation of TV networks worldwide. Agency networks used to be the repositories of talent and knowledge in this area but over the last decade, they have been busy cutting overheads and divesting themselves of experienced (expensive) staff. This will prove to be a very short sighted policy.

What is becoming clear, is that the giant press outfits such as TAG and their aspiring rivals must seek to offer these specialist skills in order to take on the ever expanding output for their clients worldwide.

Distribution and all its attendant complications, is set to become the huge growth area, as large agencies lose their monopoly of international accounts and as new-media develops exponentially. By the end of 2013, it is estimated that 80% of web traffic will be video and a growing proportion of that video will be paid for or sponsored content. Imagine the potential for lawsuits then!

Mark Andrews, M-A-D-E Ltd


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