Hungary’s communications sector unites to promote higher standards

The social acceptance of advertising is deteriorating in Hungary: a new code of co-operation wants to change that.

The Hungarian Marketing Association (MMSZ) and the Association of Hungarian Communication Agencies (MAKSZ) have developed a code of co-operation to enhance the reputation of the profession and ensure its sustainability.

The initiative is backed by the 70 members of MMSZ – who commissioned the task – 46 member agencies of the MAKSZ and six professional co-associations.

The communications industry white paper, jointly produced by the two leading professional organisations, is called the Fairplay Book: The Basics of Fair Client-Agency Collaboration – Or How Not to Lose Each Other in 10 days.

Its authors hope that the document will be a milestone in the creation of long-term, reciprocal, value-based client-agency relationships, which will greatly help to enhance the reputation of the profession and ensure its sustainability.

“The MMSZ is an active and profession-shaping organisation committed to creating value together with the client and service provider side,” says Ferenc Hinora of Positive Adamsky, president of the organisation, founded more than 30 years ago.

“The association’s mission is to serve all value-creating sectoral, educational, orientational, community and social goals, that can provide meaningful support to market players on the client and service provider side. That’s why we were also delighted to spearhead this unprecedented initiative to improve the quality of collaboration in the fragile yet value-creating client-agency relationship.”

The Fairplay Book’s authors believe that consideration and compliance with their recommendations will make the joint work of clients and their agencies more transparent and balanced.

It will enable decision-makers to define more precisely the place and role of the resources available to them in the marketing process. This can result in more efficient campaigns and better planned agency services. Both associations acknowledge that professional players are not divided into “clients and subcontractors”, but into co-operating partners: the agency is the internal resource of the client.

A motivated, innovative team, which has the capacity for renewal, is the best investment. Shared core values include the need for clear, transparent conditions for successful co-operation, as well as fair accountability, and appropriate human, professional and realistic financial incentives on both sides.

During the project, the agency side was represented by MAKSZ, the only professional association exclusively for communication agencies. In addition to protecting its interests, MAKSZ actively works for the sustainability and development of the industry, to ensure adequate supply and to raise professional standards.

MMSZ board member Ádám Mérő, consumer and shopper connection director EU at The Coca-Cola Company
Raising professional standards

According to Nikolett Blaskó of ACG, the president of MAKSZ, who manages and co-ordinates the Fairplay Book initiative within the association, the market is facing serious challenges today, the overall creative quality is far from satisfactory, and the social acceptance of advertising is also deteriorating in Hungary.

The number of long-term, strategic client-agency relationships is decreasing, and there is an increasing number of tenders – launched for tactical tasks – and ad hoc co-operation in the market. In many cases, agencies are relegated to executive rather than partner status through their clients’ purchasing departments, where price and deadlines dominate over professionalism and quality.

According to the president of MAKSZ, in order to raise professional standards and maintain sustainability, the creative-communications industry must return to its role as a value-creating, consultant-partner to clients. Mutual, predictable, partnership co-operation that is based on fair play can be the basis for all of this and the engine of development.

“We are pleased to have been creatively involved in this historic initiative, whose principles and recommendations – if taken seriously – can bring real quality change to the market,” says Blaskó.

The recommendations were collected and developed by the Marketing Decision Makers Club Agency – Client Working Group – which operates within the MMSZ – led by Ádám Mérő of the Coca Cola Company. The Working Group includes representatives from brands such as the Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, Vodafone, Nestlé and Szentkirályi Hungary.

“It is in the fundamental interest of both the client and the agency side – who believe in a constructive and partnership co-operation – that after many years of joint consultation through the largest professional organisations, principles and recommendations have finally been codified. This creates a fair, mutually respectful, transparent system of relations, leaving behind the hierarchical standpoint which is now somewhat outdated,” says Mérő.

“Having worked on both sides for many years, it was incredibly motivating to be involved in the work, as both my colleagues on the client side representing the MMSZ and the leadership of the MAKSZ put their full attention and effort into perfecting this document.”

Common will

In addition to the shared principles, the document contains recommendations and commitments related to the four key phases of the client-agency relationship: Marrying, Honeymoon, We cry together, we laugh together and Consolidation and Renewal cycles.

The presidency and the member agencies of the MAKSZ, as well as the representatives of the MMSZ and the members of its Agency – Client Working Group, are proud that the need for the Fairplay Book’s points has been so widely expressed and that they have dared to bring them to the attention of the profession with a common will.

Professional advocates of the Fairplay Book are the Advertising Self-Regulatory Board (ÖRT), the Hungarian Chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA), the Hungarian Advertising Association (MRSZ), the Data-Driven Marketing Association (DIMSZ), the Hungarian PR Association (MPRSZ) and the Hungarian Association of Event Organisers and Service Providers (MARESZ).

It is their hope that in the future more and more people will join their initiative and embrace the values and recommendations contained in the document.

This content has been produced in collaboration with an Emerging Europe partner organisation.