Consumer Choice Center Presents signatories of ‘Brands Matter’ pledge

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) has revealed the names of the 25 signatories of the ‘Brands Matter’ pledge. The CCC is aiming to gain support for the cause of brand freedom in the European Parliament and get clear responses from lawmakers on this vital consumer issue.

Commenting on the pledge, Luca Bertoletti, European Affairs Manager of the Consumer Choice Center, said that one of its key objectives of ‘Brands Matter’ is to emphasise a strong link between brand freedom and innovation, and how it can help embrace entrepreneurial spirit to the benefit of consumers.

“One example is the recent emergence of local and slow food cultures and the success of craft beers which would not be possible without local branding and novel marketing techniques. Consumers benefit from innovations of local and novel brands,” said Bertoletti.

It is interesting that the report focusses some of its attention on local produce and craft beers, as these are markets that are being catered for by both corrugated and folding carton industries, often utilising digital print techniques.

“The CCC is using this pledge to raise awareness of brand freedom’s role in protecting and advancing consumer choice in the EU. Brands enhance the customer’s ability to interpret and process information, improve confidence in the purchase decision and affect the quality of the user experience. They achieve this in a variety of ways, including reducing decision-making time, providing safety, adding value to the product, or shaping local identity,” added Bertoletti.

Signatories are:

  • Lara Comi, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia, vice-chair of the EPP)
  • Renate Sommer, MEP (Germany, CDU/CSU)
  • Patrizia Toia, MEP (Italy, Partito Democratico)
  • Stefano Maullu, MEP (Italy, Fratelli d’Italia, chair of the Brands Matter Working Group)
  • Salvatore Cicu, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
  • Angelo Ciocca, MEP (Italy, Lega)
  • Jiri Payne, MEP (Czech Republic, Strana svobodných občan)
  • Amjad Bashir, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
  • Fulvio Martusciello, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
  • Daniel Dalton, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
  • Joachim Starbatty, MEP (Germany, LKR)
  • Hans-Olaf Henkel, MEP (Germany, LKR)
  • Massimiliano Salini, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
  • Paul Rübig, MEP (Austria, Österreichische Volkspartei)
  • Daniel Hannan, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
  • Nathan Gill, MEP (United Kingdom, UKIP)
  • Robert Iwaskiewicz, MEP (Poland, Nowa Prawica)
  • Seán Kelly, MEP (Ireland, Fine Gael)
  • Raffaele Fitto, MEP (Italy, Fratelli D’Italia, vice-chair of the ECR)
  • Alberto Cirio, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
  • Christophe Hansen, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
  • Frank Engel, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
  • Georges Bach, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
  • Christofer Fjellner, MEP (EPP, Sweden)
  • Rays Fernando, MEP (EPP, Portugal)

The CCC and the signatories of this pledge want to put forward legislative action to protect brands in the European Union, and oppose legislation that reduces the right to freely brand products or market them through advertising. They will work hard to extend the number of parliamentarians who sign this pledge during the upcoming legislature.

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What #AdvertisingBans get wrong about #ConsumerBehaviour

Advertising bans are increasingly relevant in political debate, with some countries having already established rules that don’t allow for “junk food” advertising. But these proposals are all based on the assumptions that consumers are buying goods that they never would have wanted otherwise, writes Bill Wirtz.

The fundamental question is: Can you make people buy something that they don’t want?

The short answer to that question is: yes. However, you’d be required to force consumers, either directly or indirectly to make that happen. The question is not that of “want”, but rather a question of “who made me want it”.

The American legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who was Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under the Obama administration published an essay entitled Fifty Shades of Manipulation, in which he tackles manipulation and consumer sovereignty. In the said essay, Sunstein invokes different forms of manipulation, and despite the effort to differentiate, reaches the following conclusion: “It is important to acknowledge that in the commercial realm, manipulation is widespread; it is part of the basic enterprise. For that reason, the ethical taboo on manipulation is substantially weakened, in part on the theory that competitive markets impose appropriate constraints against undue harm. But in some cases, those constraints are too weak, and it is appropriate to invoke social norms or even the law to discipline welfare-reducing acts of manipulation.”

The basic flaw in the essay is a misunderstanding between “manipulation” and “marketing”, two words which are not pointing to the same type of strategy. Sunstein seems to believe that all types of advertising mislead consumers about the product, when this is actually a more exceptional case. When Volkswagen manipulated their vehicles in order to show a lower emissions output, they were giving consumers false information about their product. When companies advertise health benefits of their products that cannot be proven, then they are intentionally misleading their customers. However, this is miles away from advertising a product as being cool, refreshing, comfortable, or trendy. Are we to define the mere fact that a product is being described by the producer as “good”, as manipulation? Because by this same standard, I could feel equally manipulated by the fact that Mister Sunstein calls a book he edited himself, “relevant”. Who is he to decide what I find relevant? Will I feel misled if I find the book not to be relevant at all, and consider myself a victim of manipulation?

Most of all, it’s not like consumers are already seeing through common marketing techniques. The €9.99-trick has been around for quite a long time, and even while effective, consumers are aware of what retailers are trying to achieve here. In the same way, consumers know that it’s probably not “the best insurance”, “the smoothest soft drink”, or “the most efficient service” in the literal sense, and that marketers sell their goods the same way online as they would on an old-fashioned market place. And we’re not going after a salesman pitching his “best apples” on a marketplace, are we? In the example of the “best” apple, the salesman certainly caught your attention with his pitch, that is far from making the sale. Just thinking of all the heavily marketed products that we personally DON’T want should be proof of that.

In the same way, technological progress is uncircumventable through marketing. There is no scenario in which candlemakers market their way out of being replaced by electricity as a form of producing light. Do you buy things that you’ll find limited need for? Surely. Erroneous market decisions are a recurring theme, and nobody pretends that consumers act perfectly. If we’re willing to admit the imperfection of consumers, let’s not pretend that centralized decisions on consumer behaviour are exempt from mistakes themselves.

This is particularly true when it comes to nutrition. The food pyramid that was preached for decades was put completely upside down through new scientific findings.

Denise Minger writes in her book Death By Food Pyramid about Louise Light’s commissioned review of the 1956 food pyramid in the United States, which was ultimately rejected: “The guide Light and her team worked so hard to assemble came back a mangled, lopsided perversion of its former self. The recommended grain servings had nearly quadrupled, exploding to form America’s dietary centerpiece: six to eleven servings of grains per day replaced Light’s recommended two to three… and rather than aggressively lowering sugar consumption as Light’s team strived to do, the new guidelines told Americans to choose a diet “moderate in sugar,” with no explanation of what that hazy phrase actually meant.”

Centralized authorities make mistakes when it comes to nutritional recommendations. The claim that advertising is brainwashing us and that bureaucrats know the way out is essentially the wrong approach.

Improvements can always be made, but they have to be made through education, not blatant bans on access to information.

Let me formulate that in a way that fits the closeness of the European elections next months: if consumers are so ill-informed that they cannot even refrain from buying food as soon as they see advertising for it, then why are they fit to elect parliamentarians who legislate these advertisements away?

Originally published on https://www.eureporter.co/frontpage/2019/04/03/what-advertisingbans-get-wrong-about-consumerbehaviour/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

25 MEPs support brand freedom

Consumer Choice Center presents signatories of “Brands Matter” pledge

Brussels, BE – The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) has revealed the names of the 25 signatories of the “Brands Matter” pledge. The CCC is aiming to gain support for the cause of brand freedom in the European Parliament, and get clear responses from lawmakers on this vital consumer issue.
Commenting on the pledge, Luca Bertoletti, European Affairs Manager of the Consumer Choice Center, said that one of its key objectives of “Brands Matter” is to emphasise a strong link between brand freedom and innovation, and how it can help embrace entrepreneurial spirit to the benefit of consumers.
“One example is the recent emergence of local and slow food cultures and the success of craft beers which would not be possible without local branding and novel marketing techniques. Consumers benefit from innovations of local and novel brands,” said Bertoletti.
“The CCC is using this pledge to raise awareness of brand freedom’s role in protecting and advancing consumer choice in the EU. Brands enhance the customer’s ability to interpret and process information, improve confidence in the purchase decision and affect the quality of the user experience. They achieve this in a variety of ways, including reducing decision-making time, providing safety, adding value to the product, or shaping local identity,” added Bertoletti.

Our signatories are:

Lara Comi, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia, vice-chair of the EPP)
Renate Sommer, MEP (Germany, CDU/CSU)
Patrizia Toia, MEP (Italy, Partito Democratico)
Stefano Maullu, MEP (Italy, Fratelli d’Italia, chair of the Brands Matter Working Group)
Salvatore Cicu, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
Angelo Ciocca, MEP (Italy, Lega)
Jiri Payne, MEP (Czech Republic, Strana svobodných občan)
Amjad Bashir, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
Fulvio Martusciello, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
Daniel Dalton, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
Joachim Starbatty, MEP (Germany, LKR)
Hans-Olaf Henkel, MEP (Germany, LKR)
Massimiliano Salini, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
Paul Rübig, MEP (Austria, Österreichische Volkspartei)
Daniel Hannan, MEP (United Kingdom, The Conservative Party)
Nathan Gill, MEP (United Kingdom, UKIP)
Robert Iwaskiewicz, MEP (Poland, Nowa Prawica)
Seán Kelly, MEP (Ireland, Fine Gael)
Raffaele Fitto, MEP (Italy, Fratelli D’Italia, vice-chair of the ECR)
Alberto Cirio, MEP (Italy, Forza Italia)
Christophe Hansen, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
Frank Engel, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
Georges Bach, MEP (EPP, Luxembourg)
Christofer Fjellner, MEP (EPP, Sweden)
Rays Fernando, MEP (EPP, Portugal)
The CCC and the signatories of this pledge want to put forward legislative action to protect brands in the European Union, and oppose legislation that reduces the right to freely brand products or market them through advertising. We will work hard to extend the number of parliamentarians who sign this pledge during the upcoming legislature.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Adopting failed policies: Will Singapore jeopardize its leadership in investor confidence?

While Singapore celebrates Intellectual Property Week in September 2018 aiming to become one of the global champions of intellectual property rights and investor confidence the Singaporean Ministry of Health pushes at the same time for a policy that would lead to the opposite and significantly weaken Singapore’s leadership in innovation friendliness and brand freedom in the ASEAN region. The city state could become the first Asian country to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes citing that this will reduce smoking rates and thus positively impact the health of Singapore’s population. And while the reasons for introducing plain packaging are noble and applaudable evidence from countries that have already implemented this policy suggest that it simply doesn’t work.

Australia being the world’s first country banning visible brands on cigarette packs saw a surge in organized crime making a fortune with selling cigarettes on the black market. Officially sold cigarette consumption went down but this decline got compensated by the rise of illegally sold tobacco products bypassing government quality control.

Another piece of evidence on how ill-advised this policy is the fact that French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn publicly admitting that smoking rates in her country were not impacted by plain packaging.

Some other European countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland followed Australia’s policy on banning brands while ignoring the hard fact that the only ones who really benefit from it are criminals and terrorist groups.

Recently the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that Australia did not violate its rules by banning branding for tobacco products and made it look as it was an isolated issue. The latest push by several Australian politicians to introduce plain packaging for financial products such as consumer loans speaks another language. Once the floodgates of branding bans have been opened it is easy to infringe on other products’ brand freedom.

Currently policy makers and public health advocates around the world are discussing plain packaging for breakfast cereals and Chile has even introduced this bizarre-sounding policy claiming that it protects children. The Mayor of London has announced advertising bans for fast food in public transport and Thailand banned food ads targeted to young adults in 2017.

Singapore currently ranks 5th in the UN’s Global Innovation Index and first in the ASEAN region. The introduction of stricter rules on how infant formula milk can be advertised and marketed in late 2017 were an unusual and counter-intuitive step away from Singapore’s regional leadership in brand freedom. It seems that plain packaging for tobacco products is next in Singapore’s pipeline towards brand infringement. A slippery slope towards more regulation and less brand freedom could include many additional policy measures and result in a massive loss of investor and consumer confidence in Singapore.

Policies that boost black markets in and around Singapore, do not cause the desired effect, and weaken its role as a regional and global champion of markets and investments should be opposed. If it wants to maintain its very strong global and regional position in brand freedom and innovation Singapore should focus on evidence-based policies and embrace brand freedom instead on infringing on commercial speech and freedom of expression.

 

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost.

Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines.

In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market.

Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries.

Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian.

Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

Eltern nicht bevormunden

DIE WELT: Die Gesundheitsminister der Europäischen Union haben Vorschläge für die Regulierung der Vermarktung von sogenanntem Junkfood vorgelegt, in denen Beschränkungen von Werbung solcher Produkte gefordert werden.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish.

He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Zeichentrickfiguren auf Frühstücksflocken sollen weg

THE EUROPEAN: “Befürworter der öffentlichen Gesundheit” wollen gegen eine massive Gefahr vorgehen: Zeichentrickfiguren auf Packungen von Getreideflocken, wie zum Beispiel die der Marke Kellogg’s. Angeblich haben es Tony der Tiger, Sonny der Kuckuck Vogel, Cap’n Crunch oder Graf Chocula alle auf unsere Kinder abgesehen.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish.

He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

In defence of Tony the Tiger

SPIKED: Public-health advocates are moving in on the one danger we’ve all been missing: cereal-box cartoon characters. That’s right, Tony the Tiger, Cap’n Crunch, Count Chocula, and Snap, Crackle and Pop are all after our children. But, luckily, the European Union, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Jamie Oliver are here to protect us.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish.

He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Malbouffe: enlever Tony le tigre ne fera pas manger sainement les enfants

LA LIBRE: Ils sont les meilleurs juges de l’éducation de leurs enfants. Restreindre la publicité de produits dits “junk food” dans le but de protéger les enfants est une défiance vis-à-vis du jugement des parents.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish.

He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

EU To Clamp Down On “Junk Food” Marketing

AMBULANCE TODAY: Bill Wirtz, Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC) says it’s regrettable that the Council chooses a paternalistic approach over education.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish.

He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

EU should protect its brands and legislate to reinforce them, Italian MEP says

EURACTIV: The EU should protect its brands as they have a great potential to make Europe competitive worldwide, right-wing MEP Stefano Maullu told EURACTIV.com in the context of the continuing ‘branding versus consumer welfare’ debate.

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) NGO recently launched the Brands Matter Working Group, whose main objective is to oppose the spread of legislative measures against brands in Europe.

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About Luca Bertoletti

Luca graduated with a degree in Political Science from the University of Milan in December 2014. He worked as a Business Economics Analyst for the Italian magazine TheFielder in Milan and as Think Thank Coordinator for the Austrian Economics Center in Vienna.

He is a fellow of Competere Institute in Rome, a columnist for Atlantico Quotidiano, and he sits on the scientific board of New Direction Italia. He has been featured in the New York Times, Radio RAI, RAI 1, El Economista, The National and many other newspapers.