EC moves pave way for progress

Europe’s ad industry will gain from more relaxed legislation from Brussels and the new opportunities offered by Intranet – closed communications – systems. John Shannon reports.

This year will be an important one for Europe’s advertising industry as agencies and marketers take stock of the rapid developments that are reshaping commercial communications.

The past few years have seen significant political, economic and legislative restructuring across the continent. At the same time, the information revolution has continued to grab headlines, with Internet development and digitalisation becoming major preoccupations.

Europe’s advertising industry will undoubtedly be transformed by these forces. But the question of how the new technology can best be used to generate genuine communications benefits for clients and worthwhile levels of revenue for agencies remains unresolved.

During the next 12 months agencies that have rushed to be part of this revolution will have to give careful consideration to these issues and to their longer-term plans for developing and exploit ing this area more effectively.

I expect 1997 to be a year in which the full potential of internal communications through Intranet networks will transcend that of the Internet.

Although less obviously newsworthy than the Internet, these closed communications systems will revolutionise the international communications activities of all major multinational companies and transform the information flow between agencies and their clients.

They should allow regional and global networks to forge closer internal communications links and pave the way to more durable cross-border client/agency relationships.

1997 will also be a year in which agencies continue to explore new ways of adapting their structures and services to the changing business environment in which they operate.

Advertising regulations will continue to preoccupy agency managements as proposals for commercial communications across Europe, outlined in the European Commission Green Paper published at the end of last year, come under scrutiny and debate.

Brussels may sometimes have appeared excessively restrictive in its approach to advertising regulations and consumer protection, but there have recently been signs of a more sympathetic attitude towards the role and value of commercial communications generating economic growth.

In short, I believe 1997 will turn out to be a year not just of reflection and debate but of genuine progress in the advertising industry’s long-term development.

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