Advertising Code Social Media takes effect on 1 januari 2014

 In IT & Internet

On 10 December the Advertising Code Social Media (Reclamecode Social Media – RSM) was adopted. This Code is meant to offer the business and industry sector points of reference for the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The rules apply for all advertising businesses and industries. [1] 

Disclosure and recognizability of relevant relation (article 3 RSM)

Advertising material should be recognizable as such and the distributor must explicitly indicate in the advertisement that he receives money or payment in kind publishing it.

“ At times consumers have no idea that companies pay for messages on social media. The Code doesn’t suppress the advertisement, but it does oblige companies to be honest about this, for example by adding #spon to the message”, Prisca Ancion states on the website of the Advertising Code Foundation. “This means that if a consumer or a prominent Dutch person is paid (in euros or in kind) to review a new product, he or she will have to report this. For example by saying ‘I received this tablet for free to test it’”.

Ban on manipulation (article 4 RSM)

The average consumer may not be misled by editing announcements or other forms of communication on social media. If this should happen to promote a product for example, the advertiser indicate this. If announcements or other forms of communication are changed, selected or compared for advertising purposes, then this should be referred to.

Neither are advertisers permitted to create, systematically or in large numbers, non-existing identities to be used on social media.

Children (article 5 RSM)

Directly encouraging children younger than 12 to advertise products or services on social media is not allowed.

Duty of care and responsibility of advertiser towards distributor (article 6 RSM)
The advertiser’s duty of care implies that has an obligation to make the distributor comply with the Code, even if the distributor makes use of third parties.

Other legislation

The advertising codes are not the only rules that should be observed in content marketing.

The general rule is that acting unlawfully is forbidden.

Misleading consumers with for example incorrect information is not allowed, as stated in various rules and regulations. However, promoting a product with a certain degree of exaggeration is allowed. Presenting advertising material as editorial content is not allowed either.

Under the Dutch ‘Code for Journalism’ independence is crucial and any apparent conflict of interest should be avoided. Journalist should also adhere to the rule that advertisements should be recognizable as such.

The Dutch Media Act sets certain requirements for sponsoring and ‘product placing’ (e.g. James Bond and BMW) and forbids surreptitious advertising. Sponsors should be mentioned without any further promotion; products may be referred to, but without drawing attention to them.

Care should be taken in content marketing. In this context the Cookie legislation also plays a role; apart from that electronic advertising may not be sent to consumers and businesses without their permission (Telecommunication Act).

[1] Please refer to the website of the Stichting Reclame Code

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