27 September 2007
Mr Nkwenkwe Nkomo, Chairperson of Marketing, Advertising and Communication South Africa (MAC SA),
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today marks an important moment in a journey that began back in November 2001, when during Parliamentary public hearings, a recommendation was made that we - industry and government - should collectively address the serious transformational challenges that the marketing, advertising and communication sectors faced. We needed to do this in order to ensure that the marketing, advertising and communication industry becomes truly South African.
Present among us today are many who began that long journey - a journey that attests to your collective commitment, strength and willingness to see the industry transformed. And today you can all be proud that your hard work and your dedication have paid off, and that the Transformation Charter reflects the values and aspirations of our Constitution.
The marketing, advertising and communication industry plays a very important role in our society. The industry shapes messages, communicates ideas and information, and shapes images about people and things. And it does so in very creative ways. But the criticisms of the industry are that it conveys images by, for example, reproducing stereotypes and objectifying women; that it relies too much on marketing to its traditional consumer base and that as an industry it has not sufficiently diversified either its approach or its senior decision-making group. And having read this Transformation Charter, I am very hopeful that you have addressed these criticisms in a constructive fashion.
Since the ceremonial signing of the Transformation Charter in November 2005, you have worked assiduously at spelling out the commitment to transformation in practical detail, in terms of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Codes of Good Practice. It is encouraging to know that the draft Charter and Score Card incorporates industry targets for completing the first round of implementation of the Charter by 2014, two years ahead of the DTI's target.
And so a process that faced many challenges has resulted in a remarkable consensus on the direction and pace of change needed to ensure a truly transformed sector. It has fashioned a practical instrument to guide the sector along the path of transformation. And I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the role played by Parliament, industry stakeholders and Government in this remarkable endeavour.
Firstly, we must recognize the role played the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee. When they responded to issues of discrimination in the marketing, advertising and communication industry, they initiated a process to provide stakeholders in the industry the opportunity to have an industry that lives the values enshrined in our constitution. If the process has appeared long, it is partly because the Portfolio Committee could be said to have been ahead of its time in insisting on the importance of transforming this industry.
Having heard the various complaints the committee embarked on visits to stakeholders. What they discovered in the field persuaded them to call for public hearings on the Advertising and Marketing Industry to which all role-players in the industry were invited.
From the hearings sprang the joint consultative process which government was delegated to convene. As work proceeded, the scope widened and deepened, looking in-depth at patterns of advertising expenditure, chains of decision-making that led from marketing to media, the segmentation tools used in research, education and training for the industry, the regulatory frameworks, and representivity in employment, ownership and procurement – which resulted in the drafting and signing of a Values Statement by the industry.
Having provided the direction, the committee has continuously provided encouragement and support to GCIS and the steering committee, for which we are extremely appreciative. Its regular oversight of the process kept it moving and re-energised it when at one point it seemed to falter.
Secondly, government has been extremely pleased at the manner in which the industry has engaged with the process. The commitment shown by the marketing, communication and public relations sectors to this charter process has demonstrated that there exists a genuine commitment in the industry to a South Africa that is truly free from the vestiges of apartheid. I hope that your involvement will continue to be strong and will be beneficial to society as a whole.
Government has also played an important role in the process thus far. There would have been no draft charter without GCIS’s facilitation and support role; or without the legislative process and framework of the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment legislation driven by the DTI. Government in general and GCIS in particular, will continue to do what is necessary to ensure the continued success of the process.
Advertising as a means of communication reaches millions of people and as such needs to be held to high standards – standards that are self consciously non-sexist and non-racist, and standards that promote equality and representivity. The creativity of the advertising industry needs to be directed at our nation-building project even as it communicates about products. Advertising needs to promote social cohesion, non-racism and non-sexism. Within government, guidelines have already been issued to all departments to promote the use of advertising that reaches diverse and representative audiences. At the same time all the partners are working together to ensure that procedures for the procurement of marketing, public relations and advertising do not inhibit the entry of small enterprises, into competition for tenders. The guidelines have been shared through workshops, in a partnership between GCIS with the Association for Communication and Advertising.
The completion of this phase of the Charter process has unequivocally demonstrated that South Africans from diverse backgrounds can work together in partnership to meet the challenges facing the sector, in order to build an industry that promotes inclusion and a better life for all.
I am immensely encouraged by the core set of values that you have committed yourselves to, namely-:
- Promoting inclusivity and diversity;
- Promoting pride in the South African Brand and contributing to the transition by promoting understanding and appreciation of our diverse cultures, traditions, histories, abilities and disabilities, promoting tolerance of all human beings, and in so doing ensuring that the industry becomes a mirror of the soul of the nation;
- Promoting respect and human dignity;
- Abiding by the principles of good corporate governance and adhering to the highest standards of ethical business practices; and
- Promoting Responsible Creativity wherein the industry is mindful of the impact it has on the views and aspirations of the entire population. And this in turn means that the industry must act sensitively in a context of creativity. Such a commitment will lay the basis for a self-regulatory regime that can best serve all stakeholders.
Your work is not yet complete; you need to ensure that those in the sector who have not come on board see the value of being part of this process and join in the endeavour. It is important that those who have not joined realise that it is their interest and that of the industry that they unite behind the transformation goals you have set.
The progress achieved thus far points to an industry and a collective leadership that is in tune with the aspirations of the people in our country. Your collective contribution is also a contribution to the process of social cohesion that we are striving to achieve.
Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge ahead is that of ensuring the practical implementation of commitments in the proposed charter. But before implementation, the Minister of Trade and Industry needs to be assured that the charter being proposed meets the objectives of the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment codes and that the process has been representative and inclusive.
The Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment identifies the Minister in the Presidency as the “line-function” Minister. As such, in that capacity, I will be forwarding your proposed Charter and Score Card to the Minister of Trade and Industry.
Once the Minister of Trade and Industry has approved the Transformation Charter and the DTI has published it, I will expect to see a vigorous communication campaign to promote its implementation.
I am fully committed to ensuring that South Africa has a Marketing, Advertising and Communications industry that is reflective of our diversity, exemplifies the spirit of Ubuntu and in practice promotes the values embedded in our Constitution. I am fully convinced that the Marketing, Advertising and Communications industry can and will play a huge role in promoting an anti-discriminatory, pro-diversity democratic ethos. I am convinced that the industry will marshal its resources in the promotion of a South Africa that is the envy of the rest of the world. Your Draft Charter and our Constitution enjoin you to doing no less.
Minister in The Presidency, Dr Essop Pahad
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)