EAAA launches declaration to head off legislation

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BUDAPEST -- The European Association of Advertising Agencies has launched a declaration of what it sees as the communications industry's rights and responsibilities, in an attempt to head off legislation by governments.

Copies of the "Declaration of rights and responsibilities of commercial communications," which was launched at the EAAA's annual conference in Budapest October 16, will be sent to all members of the European Parliament and relevant trade associations this week, according Stig Carlson, EAAA director-general.

The declaration points to the benefits of advertising, stressing that consumers have the right to information about products (not just technical) so they can choose between brands and therefore contribute to the efficient functioning of a free market economy.

It then goes on to outline the responsibilities of the industry and asserts the EAAA's eagerness for self-regulation rather than government legislation.

"For the first time in the history of the EAAA, we have signed a declaration and it has really compromised us a lot," said Xavier Oliver, president of BBDO Spain and president of the EAAA at the launch. "This isn't just a bubble."

He added: "We accept governments can take action but only if self-regulation is not working. [We're saying to them] please let us try to do it ourselves."

Malcolm Earnshaw, European marketing director for Mars Inc.'s petfoods, and immediate past president of the World Federation of Advertisers, describes the EAAA declaration as "very encouraging."

But, he says, "to build on that, the industry - advertisers, agencies and media - needs to seriously appraise how self-regulation is organized and funded at both member state and European levels. Self-regulation is the only way forward in the context of both existing and new media."

Copyright October 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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