What Is SDC & How It Will Affect Advertising Agencies?


I overheard my team struggling to explain the Self Declaration Certificates (SDC) to a real estate client. I stepped in and explained that this is related to the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) for advertising.

Just like regular government notices on paper, this regulation could have easily been overlooked. However, it was intended to transform our business practices fundamentally.

Do we need SDC?

Yes, we do. We need accountability, moderation, and ownership of the content we produce as brands and agencies. Misleading claims and inappropriate representations are rampant because social media platforms are freely accessible to all. Adding self-declaration makes brands and agencies more conscious and aware of every piece of communication they put forward.

Additionally, the rigorous reviews, audits, and proofing that used to happen before releasing a print ad or outdoor campaign seldom occur before publishing a social media post for a brand. Thus, this regulation is necessary to bring about order.

Is SDC practical?

It is impractical to expect any government body to regularly check this self-certification. However, like any attested paperwork, it brings self-accountability as the first step and responsibility as the second step in the absence of compliance.

Any new rule or system requires an overhaul, and the SDC rule by the Supreme Court is a good reason to regulate and reassess how brands and agencies approach social media. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for digital content strategy are going to be essential.

How to be SDC compliant?

– Ensure your brand and agency team knows the advertising codes and provisions under Section 7(2) of The Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, which pertain to the code of conduct for advertising.

– Create a detailed review system for any form of content, advertising, and communication from your brand.

– Define an accountability structure within your brand and agency teams.

– For the rest of the technical details on how to make and update SDC, visit [this link](https://www.linkedin.com/posts/ascionline_broadcastseva-advertisers-selfdeclaration-activity-7209542010611916800-JtyZ).

PS: Social media content is no longer just about going viral, moment marketing or an intern’s job.

SDC is served but half-baked!

– No lead time or learning curve for brands and agencies.

– Smaller brands with less access to fine legal support are still unclear about its effects and implications.

– The sites for submission frequently crash because suddenly all Indian brands and agencies are using them – the tech infrastructure needs improvement.

– Many agencies and brands still adopt a “business as usual” approach, waiting to see what happens.

– There are still many grey areas about the types of digital content, reposts, text content, and how and where exactly SDC applies.

– Like a typical client who vanishes after creating an urgent brief, the Supreme Court has not provided further clarity since passing this order and is on leave until July. We need to wait for government clarification on our half-baked SDC dish until the courts resume.

Will SDC go away?

I highly doubt it will completely disappear. It will likely undergo addendums, changes, and process updates, but it is here to stay. It was high time advertising received some regulations. This self-discipline will eliminate many small, inexperienced agencies and make it easier for brands to distinguish agency partners who can take accountability for their work.

How We Did This at Zero Gravity Communications

After consulting with external legal experts, we simplified the entire code for our different internal teams in their own parlance. We created a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for our internal team and client teams, and we drafted documentation on accountability for each client. Our servicing and solutions team, with the help of legal experts, is obtaining the necessary client compliance and checks before establishing the regular working procedures for SDC. (While we are also dealing with the uptime issues of the portal, the process is already in motion.) Currently, business as usual is in progress as soon as clients and internal teams align with the new normal.

This mammoth task of understanding, and interpreting the code and regulatory requirements, and making the necessary documentation of the process and implementation was accomplished by the team at ZGC.

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