MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Reklam Özdenetim Kurulu

Each month, EASA features one of its members. In May, the spotlight is on Turkey with a focus on Reklam Özdenetim Kurulu - RÖK. To learn more, we asked a few questions to Ulya Duran, the Board Coordinator of RÖK, about how she got involved in advertising self-regulation and the highlights of the SRO. 

                               Ulya Duran

Can you briefly tell us about your background? 

I was born and raised in Zonguldak, Turkey. I currently live in Istanbul. I studied law at Marmara University then did a masters degree in Advertising & Marketing Communication at Bilgi University. I gained experience both in law firms and companies as a legal counsel. After working as a lawyer for more than 10 years, I moved to RÖK in 2012 and have been working as the Board Coordinator since then. I also have been invited to the universities to teach “Ethics in Advertising” lesson.  

What drove your involvement in advertising self-regulation?

I had the opportunity to get to know the self-regulatory body in Turkey at the beginning of my career. I gave legal consultancy for various clients with regard to the advertisement challenges when I worked for law firms. I also worked as an in house lawyer for Colgate Palmolive Turkey and executed challenge procedures regarding advertisements as a challenger or respondent. After having a long time of experience with the procedures of the self regulatory-body, I got the opportunity to work for RÖK. During this time, I began to focus on advertising law, and I got a masters degree in advertising to further specialise in this area. 

Can you tell us more about RÖK, the organisation you represent?

RÖK was established in 1994 and it is the only national self-regulatory organisation in Turkey. Turkey is unusual in having a statutory regulatory with exclusive responsibility for advertising. The statutory authority, set up with the Consumer Protection Law under the Ministry of Trade, has the power to impose a fine and to order the withdrawal of an ad. Like all other self-regulatory organisations, by using fast adaptation to legal, commercial, technological and social changes features, quick and efficient decision-making process and experienced jury members with advertising practices know-how, RÖK has a valuable and respectable place in the advertising industry.

RÖK is composed of 3 full-time staff. The staff is responsible for all activities of RÖK, including complaints handling, copy advice, training, code update, relationship with statutory authorities and other stakeholders. 

RÖK handles both consumer and competitor complaints and takes non-binding decisions. If it is decided that the ad has breached the Codes, the advertiser is asked to amend or withdraw the ad within 2 working days. The complaint handling process takes 7 to 10 days. At most, in 10 days, any misleading ad is avoided. In the event of non-compliance, the media are asked to refuse the ad. 

What are some of the current/upcoming developments and priorities?

Recently the Ministry of Trade published the “Guideline Regarding the Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices by Influencers”, taking the views of RÖK into consideration. The guideline is intended to promote transparency in influencer marketing by disclosing the relationship between the advertiser and the party distributing the advertising communication. As RÖK and the Association of Advertisers, it was planned to prepare a guideline directly targeting the influencers covering the “do’s and don’ts” with a more easy and “influencer friendly” tone, supported with infographics. This new guideline published by the Ministry changes the timing and the priority. By taking into consideration this new guideline, the coverage of the planned guideline for influencers will be rearranged. 

Are there any achievements you would like to mention?

RÖK has been first recognised officially at the national level with the new legislation regarding “The Regulation on Advertising Council”, published in December 2014.

The aims of the Council are:

  •  Follow up the contemporary and international developments and court decisions related to the marketing communications industry, create views and proposals for the development of regulatory and supervisory functions in these areas.
  •  If necessary, establish working groups and determine the chair of these working groups.
  •  Examine the reports of the working groups and initiate discussions.
  •  Discuss the issues related to the advertising industry and make proposals for creating public awareness.
  •  Develop proposals in order to ensure healthy measurements at all media channels.
  •  Monitor the developments about the comments and suggestions set out, evaluate the results, inform the community, publish these works and create guidelines if necessary.

RÖK has been stated as a member of the Council and has 5 seats within this Council. This recognition especially strengthens RÖK in front of those advertisers who don’t recognise the self-regulatory system and RÖK. Other than this official recognition, RÖK has a very close relationship with the statutory authority regarding the exchange of views.

In 2014 there had been a major change in the Consumer Protection Law and in its secondary regulation, the Commercial Communication and the Unfair Commercial Practices Regulation ("Advertising Regulation"). Due to these changes, as RÖK, we have prepared a training that covers the changes in the regulations, the case studies that were sent by EASA members. With this training, we have reached more than 20 advertisers and advertising agencies and almost 500 advertising professionals. 

What are the current challenges it is facing? 

We see challenges in online advertising, especially influencer marketing. 

Any message you would like to address to our ad SR community? 

We are very honoured and happy to be a part of EASA's family. Including the ICAS members, we share the know-how and work in co-operation with the self-regulatory family all over the world. By uniting our knowledge and our different practices, we are overcoming all obstacles and ensure responsible advertising for everyone.