Advertising industry – hypocrites

The dti minister has released the MAC Charter in terms of section 9(5) of the B-BBEE Amendment Act.

You can read it here. Section 9(5) means that the sector code has been released as a draft only. The public has 60 days to comment, after which the minister can decide to publish it as a formal sector code which must be followed.

MAC stands for marketing, advertising and communication. It affects advertising agencies, public relations companies and companies involved in conceptualisation, creation, production and implementation of communication as a means of marketing.

The MAC Charter was originally issued as a draft in August 2008, but never finalised.
An interesting feature of the MAC charter is it has been endorsed by the stakeholders, including:

    Advertising Standards Authority (ASASA)
    Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA)
    Communication and Advertising Forum for Empowerment (CAFE)
    Government Communications and Information Services (GCIS)
    Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA)
    South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF)

Letters from some of these organisations endorsing and supporting the MAC Charter form part of the gazette itself. It would be logical to expect these organisations to have their own valid BEE certificates and be proud to issue them to whomever asked. The only way to see an organisation’s support of the transformation process is via their BEE certificate.

Unfortunately this is not the case. We called ASASA, ACA, PRISA and SAARF and were met with the most disappointing responses.

    ACA refused to give us a certificate unless they were a supplier to us.
    SAARF states they do not have a BEE certificate because it is difficult to comply. Hello! Obviously it is difficult, but is that a good enough reason to tell everyone else you support the process but can’t do it yourself!
    ASASA said they do not have a certificate and are not likely to get one in the near future. Yet they publicly support the MAC Charter. Is this possibly unsubstantiated, and misleading advertising? I think so and have personally lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority against the Advertising Standards Authority.

Unfortunately this is not a joking matter. According to the MAC Charter, in 2001 the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications convened public hearings and found that the pace of transformation was unacceptably slow. There are of course some advertising agencies with very good BEE scores, but when your own industry body is reticent about its level, or has no valid certificate, it does tend to prove the slow pace of transformation. After our bad experience with the industry bodies and stakeholders we are concerned about the future of transformation. Maybe the MAC charter should not exist at all and companies in the industry should be encouraged to follow the Amended BEE codes.

The public has 60 days to comment, and we will of course also be submitting our comments on the state of the industry and the charter itself.

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