INTA 2017: The Evolving Role of Brands

Only we and not the passage of time can shape the present,” said Íñigo Méndez de Vigo (Minister of Education, Culture and Sport and government spokesperson, Spain), paraphrasing poet W H Auden, “Time will say nothing but I told you so.”

Giving the Keynote Address at INTA’s Opening Ceremonies, Mr. Méndez de Vigo said that there are still many important issues, such as the protection of trade secrets, the fight against counterfeits, and the protection of creators’ rights, particularly in relation to the digital world, that need to be worked on.

The Spanish government is committed to the protection of creators’ rights, “not only because it is our obligation, but because it is our conviction. Talent must have a price and that price ought to be paid,” he said.

School is where the fight against piracy begins, said Mr. Méndez de Vigo, adding that it should be explained to students in the same way that stealing is.

“We want to raise an anti-piracy generation,” he explained, adding that neither piracy nor stealing are “acceptable in our legal framework.”

The government is also working to reach a consensus on the legal framework to achieve better protections for creators.

And the results are already beginning to show—the Office of the United States Trade Representative in its “2017 Special 301 Report” highlighted Spain as a country that provides adequate and effective protection of copyright.

On current events in the European Union, namely Brexit, the Minister said that Europe is at a turning point.

“We have to move forward with the building of Europe and those who believe in its value must be the ones to follow through,” he said.

As a Member of European Parliament, Mr. Méndez de Vigo has always been convinced of the European Union’s importance and of the need to have a common space based on freedom, security, and the respect of basic rights.

“We are faced with a new international scenario that demands the restructuring of roles played by different actors.”

Before Mr. Méndez de Vigo spoke, INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo welcomed members to the conference.

“We have 10,600 attendees here, 225 officials, 150 universities from around the world, and more importantly, and that makes me extremely proud, 2,400 newcomers and more than 8,000 repeat attendees to our Annual Meeting,” Mr. Sanz de Acedo said.

He discussed the work of the Association during the past three and a half years, with priorities including brand restrictions, harmonization, internet governance, and counterfeiting.

“When we talk about harmonization, we need strong laws and we need strong enforcement mechanisms,” he said.

The rise of the Internet has changed the distribution channels of products.

“Counterfeiting and piracy is a major problem. It’s a major problem for the companies, but also, and perhaps even more so, for the consumers, and finally for the governments,” Mr. Sanz de Acedo noted.

“Counterfeiting is a priority for the brand owners, and is, therefore, our priority as INTA,” he said.

INTA President Joe Ferretti highlighted the changing role of brands from focusing on the functional attributes of products to later becoming part of a social identity. Now, he explained, brands are being shaped by consumers.

“Brands are today communicating with consumers through social media and letting consumers influence the branding to a certain extent,” Mr. Ferretti said.

“Today, the most successful brands empower consumer engagement,” he noted.

Mr. Ferretti suggested that companies should assume a broader role as brand stewards. If firms better understand where the brands are going they can better anticipate the challenges ahead and protect and serve the brands more holistically, he said.

“So today, I challenge all of you to evolve in your roles, too. Embrace the role of brand steward.”

INTA17, European Union, keynote, counterfeits, piracy, education, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo.

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