4 public affairs predictions for 2018
The WFA public affairs team share their predictions for what the next 12 months hold for brands.
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1. GDPR: heralding the re-emergence of consumer trust online?
If 2017 was the year of financial transparency, 2018 will be the year of data transparency. From May, any company (wherever it is located in the world) collecting personal data of EU citizens will need “freely-given, specific, informed and unambiguous” consent from the “data subject”. A brand-owner will require 100% assurances that any party acting on its behalf abides by the law - with brand owner’s liable to fines of up to 4% of global turn-over and considerable risks to brand reputation. Brands already sit on vast swathes of data for which they may be liable come May. Some serious spring cleaning should already be under way. Brands will also have to radically cut the number of parties operating across the value chain and hold them accountable for their data collection practices. As people take back control of their data online, we may witness the emergence of a more transparent and informed value exchange- and potentially, the basis for a more sustainable and trusted brand-customer relationship. SL
2. Chile outside
Chile has taken the tobacco approach to regulating sugary and fatty food marketing and labelling (see image). The Chilean model is now being touted as the gold standard by the World Health Organisation and countries as diverse as Australia, Israel, India, Philippines and South Africa are examining how they can follow suit. Policy discussions in Canada could be headed in the same direction and risk reinforcing the perception that this is the global blueprint for regulating food marketing to kids. If Canada takes this track, 2018 could usher in the end of food marketing to children as we now know it. WG
3. Fighting spirit
With no let-up in sight on the health lobby’s war on lifestyle-related diseases, the focus is unlikely to shift any time soon from alcohol brands and, in particular, their marketing practices. A new CEO announcement in September reiterated the leading companies’ commitment to responsible marketing in an increasingly digital world. Their longer term license to connect meaningfully with consumers will depend on two things: their ability to roll-out their policies consistently at a global level and whether or not they can convince digital media platforms of the shared interest they also have in developing meaningful and creative solutions so that those who don’t want to see alcohol ads don’t have to. WG
4. Tracking kids online – game over?
The reputational risk for processing and sharing children’s data is well known to companies marketing to children online. The EU is preparing for the entry into force of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May – and you only need to look to the US Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule ("COPPA") for a glimpse of what might be ahead. In the US, a large number of toy and entertainment companies are facing class action law suits, allegedly for placing third-party tracking technologies in child-directed mobile apps and games for the purposes of online tracking. Unless companies processing EU children’s data seriously step up their game to ensure compliance by 25 May 2018, they risk both financial penalties and major blows to brand reputation. RA