With social media and the countless marketing agencies calling themselves specialist in digital marketing, the lines are getting blurred when it comes to advertising. The use of KOL’s and influencers further accentuates the problem where misleading information about products they represent are distributed without verification or authority approvals. A recent social media campaign about a pair of “Muslim-friendly” footwear was the result of the abuse, this incident caused backlash and ire from netizens and the public when a local footwear brand used a popular artist to promote a claim that does not exist. Both parties have apologised but the insensitive attitude and blatant opportunistic behaviour is becoming rampant in the digital sphere.
However there are guidelines overseeing such activities from going overboard, the Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF) introduced the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Content Code (Content Code) back in 2004 that promotes good practices and standards of content amongst content producers and consumers. But due to its nature of being self-regulatory, the chances of many not referring to it is high.
“The increasing use of religion as a marketing ploy has raised many concerns and CMCF had thus issued an Industry Practice Note on the Use of Religion in Advertising via Broadcast Media in 2017. This is also to ensure that neither the religion nor the consumers are exploited through misleading advertising content.” The Industry Practice Note includes prohibition against making claims or giving false interpretation of the teachings of any religion that has a tendency to mislead, create fear or give false promises to consumers said CMCF executive director Mediha Mahmood.
Mediha added that it is not CMCF’s aim to curtail creativity in content advertising or control content consumption, but merely to promote a safe and thriving communications and multimedia environment. She also urged industry players, content creators and content consumers to practice self-regulation.
In light of the rise in content abuse across all platforms recently, the agency encourages all industry players and content creators to refer to the content code whenever in doubt. The Content Code serves as a clear guide on what may be deemed as insensitive to the mass public. It can also help users identify content which is threatening, offensive or false
CMCF is currently working to produce a revised version of the Content Code, to better address more recent and timely issues in regards to content across all digital platforms. This revised code will cover more areas which are currently left unaddressed. Users will be able to grab a copy of the revised Content Code later in the year.