Co-creator and Industry Veteran Voices Support of Country’s Self-Regulation Model

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May 2, 2024

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As the country’s designated private sector organization in the country that upholds truth, fairness and decency in advertising content, the Ad Standards Council creates and abides by a Code of Ethics and Standards developed and approved by its members for safeguarding consumer interest.

Functioning within its unique and resilient self-regulation model—defined as an organization running on its own codes, rules, guidelines without intervention from external bodies—the ASC has a strong fleet of 7 member trade associations, namely, the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of the Philippines (4As PH), Digital Marketing Association of the Philippines (DMAP), Kapisanan ng Brodkasters ng Pilipinas (KBP), Media Specialists Association of the Philippines (MSAP), Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA), United Print Media Group (UPMG), and Out of Home Advertising Agencies of the Philippines (OHAAP).

At ceremonies held 19th of March 2024 at the Makati Diamond Residence, Keynote speaker Darlene Berberabe, Dean of the University of the Philippines, College of Law, also served as Inducting officer of the ASC 2024 Officers and Board of Directors.

Dean Berberabe is no stranger to ASC, and is a staunch supporter of self-regulation. A Board Director of PANA representing P&G during the 2000s, she played a pivotal role in the review of the ASC Code of Ethics at its inception providing critical perspective from the laws of the land, and even served as panelist during its early days.

The Philippines is unique in its model of self-regulation. At an advertising and marketing summit held in Peru last 2018, the country ranked the highest among its counterparts across the globe, ticking off 90% of the criteria. That the country’s communicators have achieved this honor is due largely to the clear and compact organization that defines the ASC and its operations.

On the strength of self-regulation and trusting its process, Dean Berberabe remarked, “There is the synergy of the self-interest of a business to promote sales and interest in ensuring that the self-regulation system works. It is a symbiosis of two very different interests. One has to look out for oneself, and yet in order to survive, one must also look out for the interest of the advertising industry as a whole.”

The Dean further cited elements that made self-regulation important to the industry.

  1. Self-regulation fosters a culture of accountability within the industry. Being accountable to a set of ethical standards and best practices demonstrates the commitment to consumer welfare and safeguards the long-term sustainability of that industry.
  2. Self-regulation empowers industry stakeholders to own their actions and decisions, thus upholding the highest standards of integrity.
  3. A self-regulatory framework serves to enhance consumer trust and confidence in the advertising industry. This mitigates the risk of government intervention and cultivates a trust-relationship with consumers.
  4. Often, laws are not complete in the scenarios that happen in real life. Self-regulatory framework is quick and adaptive; it is capable of swift response to emerging trends and technological advancement; and quick to redress violations. Self-regulation that allows quick and efficient response is good for business and good for consumers.
  5. The country’s self-regulation system of volunteer screeners and hearing panelists bears objective and impartial lenses that sets a level of fairness and objectivity.

All things good come with guards. Dean Berberabe cited pitfalls arising from the imbalance of self-regulation such as competitive disadvantages for expensive compliances that allow bigger brands more access to advertising; a one-size-fits-all model that can marginalize scenarios that do not fall into the mold; and the possibility of inflexibility that can inhibit innovation, to name some.

As Dean of the College of Law of the country’s premiere state university, known for producing the critical mind of future leaders, there is merit in Berberabe’s summary of self-regulation. Her analysis of self-regulation—from the vast network and the several components all equal weight in importance—encompasses touchpoints from business and brands, legal and public, consumer and manufacturer, even intellectual and ideal to all things real.

Dean Berberabe’s tone is that of the veteran. Hers is a mastery in the delicate balancing act of spiritualizing history for the future.

“We must also respect and endeavor to study our history in the ASC so we would not lose the valuable insights and lessons learned from the past. Without historical knowledge, we might repeat the same mistakes, miss out on cultural understanding, and lack context for present events. We must remember that our history helps shape our identities and guides us toward informed decision-making.

This is our opportunity to be grateful for the pillars in the industry who held the baton, and who graciously guide us and pass on the baton of knowledge, wisdom and experience,” she added.