The National Media Council (NMC) has announced the issue of an official advertising guide, with the new document aiming to clarify standards for content produced by advertisers in the UAE. Devised as a practical framework for the advertising industry, the guide has been introduced to protect the public from marketing promotions that do not conform to applicable standards and to organise advertising activity as an effective industry that contributes to the country's economic development.
The announcement of the guide came during a press conference hosted by NMC at the organisation's Abu Dhabi headquarters on Monday, October 29. Commenting on the new document and its set of standards, Dr. Rashid Al Nuaimi, Executive Director Media Affairs at the council, explained the reasoning behind its launch.
"The rapid growth of the global media sector has seen the advertising sector in the UAE play an ever-increasing role in driving the economy. It contributes to the increase of product consumption which in turn leads to an increase in production output - a fundamental aspect of economic development. It also has an important role in terms of social utility, as effective advertising can support cultural heritage and the civilization of the state," said Dr. Nuaimi.
Individuals and institutions involved in the UAE's advertising sector are required to adhere to the standards outlined in the guide, which stresses that advertisers should not harm the economic system of the state, should not spread rumours or biased and misleading news, should not publish images or words that violate public morality, should respect intellectual property rights, should maintain ethical codes of conduct and should uphold standards of honesty. They are also required to comply with rules governing consumer protection and fair competition controls, commercial fraud and legal monopoly. Advertising for alcohol, narcotics and tobacco in all its forms is prohibited and prior approval should be sought from concerned authorities with regard to advertisements that relate to health, education and real estate.
With regards to the terms of advertising content, the new guide emphasises that advertisements must not be vague, ambiguous or unclear, should not contain false or misleading claims, should not use falsified images, should not exaggerate the product or service being advertised, should not lead to confusion with other names, products or activities, should not endorse criminal activity and should not violate the existing standards relating to media content and age classification.
The new advertising guide also refers to electronic advertisements in social media, stressing that all those who carry out advertising activities on a commercial basis are required to obtain a prior license from the council provided, with the account holder being the primary person responsible for the content of the account in question. According to the guide, advertisements on social media, websites or blog must be clearly defined. They should appear distinctive and independent from editorial and information material and it should be clearly disclosed whether the advert is a paid-for promotion.
The guide also referred to activities on social media that are exempted from licenses, such as charitable and volunteer activities, free-of-charge advertising conducted on a non-commercial basis and any other activities the council deems exempt. The document specifies the terms of licensing for advertising activities for individuals, companies and institutions, citizens of the GCC and GCC companies and institutions.