The Hungarian Advertising Association (hereinafter: "MRSZ"), the largest umbrella organization of the Hungarian marketing communication profession, has announced that the Codification Committee of MRSZ and the Hungarian Marketing Association have updated the provisions of the Hungarian Code of Advertising Ethics during an extensive professional consultation in the calendar years 2021 and 2022. This took place in the middle of the Hungarian advertising industry. The provisions of the new Hungarian Code of Advertising Ethics (hereinafter: "Code") have been rewritten in a format that is easier to understand and more structured. These changes have been made in order to bring the Code into conformity with the self-regulatory standards that are used internationally. The Code will become operational on the 30th of June in 2023.
The provisions of the previous code of advertising ethics have been significantly modified, and the articles of that code have also been brought up to date. Among the general provisions, the general advertising bans and limitations have been significantly revised, with particular attention paid to the protection of persons, the human body, and the promotion of a positive body image in advertising. Among the general provisions, the general advertising prohibitions and restrictions have been significantly amended.
- Environmental Protection
As a result of global warming and the growing difficulty posed by environmental pollution, there has been a rise in the phenomenon of businesses dishonestly presenting their goods and services to customers as being environmentally friendly in order to increase sales of those goods and services. This is done in order to attract customers' attention and encourage them to purchase those goods and services.
The new regulation, in comparison to the previous advertising code of ethics, provides a framework of protection against misleading practices that is more up-to-date, thorough, and comprehensive than it was previously. Because of this, new requirements have been introduced to the Code, some of which are as follows: advertising must be planned so as not to take advantage of the concerns that customers have about the environment; green claims must be genuine and truthful; and advertisers are required to adequately back up their claims with proof.
- Digital Advertisements
The rules governing advertising in the digital space have also been updated in response to the newly posed challenges that have been brought about by advances in technology and the increasingly dominant role that the digital space plays. The Code now has a new clause that prohibits the moderation of social media accounts in such a way as to pick comments in order to maintain only those that are positive toward the advertising company. On the other hand, comments that are deemed to be rude, abusive, ridiculing, or otherwise inappropriate may be removed.
The Code added a distinct page on the rules of influencer marketing outlining who shall be deemed to be an influencer and influencer content under the Code as this is one of the most common advertising tactics currently. The Code requires that it be made abundantly obvious to consumers that there is a financial interest and a commercial connection between the advertiser and the influencer. This is a requirement that the Code imposes. The influencer shall declare if the content released is an advertisement, and if hashtags (#) are used, the advertising character shall be stated in the first position. In the first instance, the nature of the advertisement must be directly linked to the material that has been published, taking into account the peculiarities of various devices (such as smartphones, laptops, smartwatches, and so on) and the various social media platforms. It is not acceptable for the reference to the advertising nature of the published content to be in any way other than directly visible, such as by clicking on the "Next" button. This practice is not acceptable.
- Advertising Healthcare Products
Although the preceding regulation established the requirement that in the event of an advertisement of a prescription-only medicinal product that can be legally advertised, (i) the advertisement must indicate that the product is a "prescription-only medicinal product," and (ii) the advertisement must be a part of a promotion campaign that has been approved by the competent authority, the previous regulation has been superseded by a new regulation that does not include these prerequisites. In addition to the aforementioned criteria, the new Code makes it abundantly clear that the only prescription-only medicines that are permitted to be advertised lawfully are vaccinations and medicines that are related to them.
In addition to the above, the rules of the new Code have been modified to incorporate the requirements of the advertising of fitness and lifestyle programs (such as diet). This comes after the aforementioned was included.
- Food Advertising
The regulations governing the advertising of foods, including dietary supplements, have been brought up to date and revised so that they are in conformity with the applicable EU legislation.
Claims that relate to health must now be authorized in order to be included on the list of claims that are permitted, as this is a new requirement that was added to the Code. The allowed claim needs to be included in the advertisement in a manner that complies with the list. A new rule states that an on-hold claim can only be utilized if the advertiser possesses scientific data to back up the claim. This is another new rule.
The new Code also mandates that information pertaining to nutrition must be given to customers in a way that is unmistakable and straightforward, making it simple for them to comprehend. The use of scientific terms or vocabulary should not give the impression that a claim made about a product or a way of life is supported by scientific evidence. Unlike the previous legislation, the new Code also compels advertisers to ensure that the advertisement of foods does not declare or indicate that the product has features which prevent, treat, or cure human disease.
A novation of the Code further defines what is deemed to be a food supplement, and it stipulates that the marketing of a food supplement must not go beyond the making of health claims, nor must it imply that the product satisfies the requirements of individuals suffering from any illness. In addition, beginning of the 30th of June in 2023, the Code mandates that any advertisement for a dietary supplement must furthermore include the product's category.