Science and Legislation Section
Afanasieva Olga, Associate Professor at the Integrated Communications Department, Higher School of Economics National Research University, Candidate of Political Sciences
Borusyak Lyubov, Associate Professor at the Integrated Communications Department, Higher School of Economics, Candidate of Economic Sciences
At the beginning of the Science and Legislation Section Lyubov Borusyak (Associate Professor at the Higher School of Economics, Candidate of Economic Sciences) presented preliminary results analysis of a comprehensive study of “sore spots” of 12 Russian regions (including Novgorod and Leningrad Regions, Ekaterinburg, Surgut, Rostov-on-Don, Krasnoyarsk and others). This study’s goal is unique because usually regional specific features of social problems are omitted in most social polls in Russia. The study shows that alongside problems that have no regional specifics there are problems that are considered important and vital in some regions, while in others they are viewed as insignificant. For example, the migrants’ problem is considered important by the respondents in St. Petersburg, while it is unimportant and insignificant in some other regions. The study also revealed that the problem perception differs, and people tend to be influenced by mass media presentations of problems they do not deal with every day, e.g. drug abuse, compared to problems people face in their everyday experience. Preliminary conclusion of the study states that the types and content of social advertising campaigns in the Russian regions depend on the vitality of the problem in a certain region and the level of civil maturity of the citizens, i.e. whether they are ready to solve problems by themselves or they wait for the state to do it.
Valentina Shilova (Candidate of Social Sciences, Sociology of Management and Social Technologies Center Senior Researcher, Russian Academy of Sciences Sociology Institute) spoke about the new forms of social advertising emerging in blogosphere, one of them being Internet memes. In blogosphere anyone can be an author apart from the governmental customer and NGOs, and can create social announcements and promote them at different levels. The problem tank widens considerably due to the great number of contributors. We find a large spectrum of social topics in the Internet ranging from alcoholism and drug abuse to education reform, attitude to a number of social institutions, tolerance and respect to veterans. To promote these new forms of communication one needs personal involvement in the Internet environment, actuality, uniqueness, creativity and reputation. Re-post is an intensity thermometer. A particular feature of social advertising in blogosphere is that some of its innovative instruments, like memes and demotivators, can be provocative or manipulative, and web visitors need to learn how to discern them.
As Yulia Pirogova’s report (Higher School of Economics Professor, Doctor of Science in Literature, “Advertising. Theory and Practice” Journal Editor-In-Chief) describes, a contemporary man lives in a special world; s/he has to deal with the time deficit and is tired of direct advertising. For advertising to be successful and to represent not just the object promoted by a commercial brand, marketing activity itself should be useful for the consumers. Implementation of the concepts of socially ethical and holistic marketing on the global and Russian markets leads to strengthening and development of such an image component of commercial brands (of corporate and product type) that is connected with recognizing responsibility of the brand for the wellbeing of the society.
An example here is how the seller of shoes and accessories ALDO ran an anti-AIDS campaign. Analysis of the wide-scale communications campaigns of commercial brands devoted to socially significant topics allows offering a number of recommendations to optimize the influence of social advertising.
Dmitry Korsakov (“Korsakov and Partners” Auditing Company General Director) reported about the amendments regarding social advertising added to the Tax Code of Russia in 2011. In the past non-governmental organizations of Russia were obliged to pay income tax in the process of creating and placing of social advertising and transmitting ads in mass media (the services provided by the media were considered an income, there were no exemptions in this case; tax reduction only applied to cash donations, donated services did not count). The clip maker transferred ownership rights for the clip to an NGO and paid VAT as did mass media for placing it. Taxes were not always the official reason why media refused to place the clip, they used formal excuses to cover the true reason. A number of amendments to the Tax Code of Russia have been adopted, leaving almost no unavoidable obstacles for the production and placement of social ads, here they are in a nutshell:
· Concerning value added tax: property rights transfer is included into the charity tax exemption, which in itself is a considerable benefit in the relations between NGOs, media and ad producers (makers of clips, videos, etc)
· Concerning income tax: donated services have been added to the list of tax benefit cases, thanks to this amendment the important question of tax load and risks of NGOs in placing of social advertisements has been solved
· Expenses for the preparation and placement of social advertisements have been included in general expenses, which is the unprecedented benefit for mass media (the only case when charity expenses fully reduce income tax)
“However, after the adoption of these amendments there has been no increase in the number of social campaigns or the number of rotations of social ads. It means that the next stage of reforms should aim to increase social responsibility of media, to increase accountability transparency of media social responsibility” – the speaker concluded.
Maria Soboleva, a participant from Kirov, paid attention to an under-researched type of advertising, i.e. advertising on the radio, in her report “Social Advertising On The Radio: Special Features And Effectiveness Conditions”. She makes a point that radio advertising possesses a unique feature, an ability to convey the sensation of life due to the psychological peculiarities of auditory images perception, their subjectivity and men’s aspiration to complete the lines and elements missing in the text with their imagination.
Valeria Ustinova (Mir Dialoga Communications Center Director General, coach and consultant in communications and top-managers personal effectiveness) devoted her presentation to verbal communications. Based on the experience of her Center, she made a conclusion about the motivation of actors who participate in social projects. For them, including young actors, motivation springs from the need of self-realization beyond theater, for instance, in schools, making performances before small groups of people. For a young actor introducing people to theater and classics is of great value. Many actors have a list of roles they never played but dream of for years and years, and young actors treasure the chance to play such roles even if the audience is school children. It is not only good training and self-realization for them, but also an opportunity to step beyond common routine and try a new format of social projecting.
Alexander Sharikov (Higher School of Economics Professor, European Studies of Audience Group Member) commented on the vital problem of advertising and protecting child from the information harming their health and development. He told about the training of experts who will rate TV shows according to the new law. Mr. Sharikov himself actively participates in this work and finds it extremely important. He said, the day the Conference started the first group of experts finished their preparation and passed the final examination. Alexander Sharikov thinks, there must not be confusion between freedom and permissiveness, this is why law and its correct interpretation will define ethical norms, which are very much oblique today. “Our mass media are extremely aggressive, and aggression in media leads to constant growth of aggression in society, permanent stress and its consequence – indifference to everything as a defense mechanism to stress”, he thinks. “Along with TV and radio shows, advertisements also need age appropriate labels, because both commercials and social ads contain lots of destructive elements”. To illustrate this idea, Mr. Sharikov referred to the often criticized Russian case of a baby used as a cigarette extinguisher. Professor also noted that the website of Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications) features the list of documents required for those willing to become an expert of TV production age-based audience rating.
According to a report of Olga Savelieva “Advertising in China” (Higher School of Economics Professor, Doctor of Sociology), in May 2011 China has become the second largest advertising market with the volume of $36 billion in the world. Stable growth of 20% a year is also observed. 1995 Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China states that one of the goals of advertising is to fully disclose its active role in the sphere of socialist market economy. The same law states that advertisers, producers and distributors should follow the principles of trust and justice. Perception of life of Chinese advertisers is guided by their awareness of the value of Chinese culture and political regime of the country. Advertisers use the plots, motifs, and characters of the traditional Chinese culture. The feeling of social responsibility, following socially approved patterns (do not litter in the street, help clean public spaces) often become the basis for creativity – since social discourse of any advertisement should work for the good of the country, Chinese advertisers think. Sustaining traditional models of behavior, for example, respect to elders, has become one of the topics of social advertising. Preliminary monitoring is required for all types of advertising announcements intended for publication in electronic or print media as well as advertising of complex goods – drugs, agrochemical substances, veterinary products, etc.
At the Section’s closing Alexander Pobgrebelny, a founder and director of NormaSakhar, an online service tracking diabetes patients condition, reported that 12.7 million people in Russia (11.64% of adult population) suffer from this disease. “During the time of this project presentation, equal to 20 minutes, 1 person on the planet obtained diabetes, and each year the number of patients increases”, Mr. Podgrebelny said and offered a worrying statistics. “If a patient does not check sugar level in blood, s/he will not be able to compensate diabetes and will die of complications. Direct expenses of treating type 1 diabetes with severe complications exceed $20,000 a year in Russia. Losses from the labor productivity decrease of diabetes patients (i.e. indirect expenses) may even exceed treatment expenses. Economic effect achieved by the prevention of diabetes complications is the most important one among expected positive economic effects of new drugs and new treatment technologies introduction”. To conclude his report the expert stated, NormaSakhar’s mission is providing effective monitoring of the condition and treatment of diabetes patients as well as assistance to the state and public programs of purposeful prevention and treatment of diabetes and its complications.
Even though the Section’s work was finished with a report of medical nature, the range of reports and analysis of the presented problems comprised an interesting and up-to-date picture of tendencies of social topics scientific studies development, as well as a commentary to the processes taking place in such a complex and vital sphere as legislation.