The Institute of Promotional Marketing has published “The Experiential Marketing Code of Conduct.” Backed by such as the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, the Marketing Agencies Association and Coca Cola, this is a serious contribution to regulation of the sector, but how will it be enforced? Simon Fisher reports.
Topic: Direct Marketing
Who: Institute of Promotional Marketing
When: 29 February 2012
Law as stated at: 2 April 2012
The Institute of Promotional Marketing ("IPM") has published the first Experiential Marketing Code of Conduct ("the Code") to cover those areas of an experiential marketing campaign which may not be subject to the CAP Code, such as sampling, face-to-face marketing and live performances with a marketing purpose.
The Code has involved input from the Direct Marketing Association, the Marketing Agencies Association, the Public Relations Consultants Association, the British Council of Shopping Centres, the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, Eventia and the Portman Group.
The ASA and the Committee of Advertising Practice were also consulted and the Code has already received backing from major corporates such a Coca-Cola GB, who will be requiring all of its marketing agencies to abide by it.
The purpose of the Code is to ensure that marketing communications are "legal, decent, honest and truthful", and that "consumer confidence is maintained". The core principle of the Code, as with the CAP Code, is that marketers should deal with consumers fairly.
The Code is intended to cover marketing communications which are delivered by representatives of a brand, referred to as "Brand Ambassadors", directly to consumers. It is not intended to cover pure face-to-face selling, product demonstrations or activities carried out by celebrities or personalities who merely endorse a brand.The Code sets out general principles which engender an ethos of responsibility and integrity as well as setting out specific guidelines in relation to where experiential marketing is conducted, its environmental impact and any particular considerations which should be given in relation to the type of product or the intended audience.
The Code also deals with practical issues such as insurance, staffing guidelines and compliance with laws and other regulations.
Why this matters:
Although no self-regulatory body has been set up to enforce the Code, it is anticipated that compliance with the Code will be maintained through self-regulation – which the marketing industry has become accustomed to doing.
It is anticipated that complaints concerning infringements of the Code will be dealt with by the relevant trade association and where infringement is severe or persistent it is expected that each association will impose sanctions, such as "naming and shaming" or expulsion from membership.
IPM also hopes that there will be a reciprocal understanding with the ASA that where a complaint under the Code reveals an infringement of the CAP Code, the ASA will be invited to undertake its own investigation and enforcement, and vice versa.
However, the Code will most likely be regulated and enforced indirectly by the clients themselves. Most client companies require marketing agencies or service providers to be members of a recognised trade body or to adhere to industry codes of conduct before they can be appointed and, the larger clients, adopt their own marketing charters.
It is therefore expected that most marketers will be expected to comply with the Code when they are engaged by clients – and may even be contractually bound to do so – and so any failure or infringement in respect of the Code may result in loss of work and reputation, rather than any specific regulatory sanctions.
Marketers who are involved in experiential marketing should acquaint themselves with the Code, a copy of which is available on the IPM's website at the following URL: