Sep 13, 2011
I3 – CCS’ Advocacy Framework
Singapore has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s most competitive economies, built as a result of sound competition policies in areas ranging from trade openness, human capital development, and infrastructure investment. The Singapore Competition Act, which came into force between 2006 and 2007, and the formation of the Competition Commission of Singapore (“CCS”) was a continuation of Singapore’s pro-market policies to constantly sharpen the country’s competitive edge.
As a newly formed public sector agency, CCS encountered several early challenges in quickly raising awareness and communicating its proposition to stakeholders. Faced with an increasingly media-saturated audience, how does one explain highly technical legal and economic concepts to the busy business population? Technology has always been a key enabler, but how does CCS leverage it to make itself heard above the many messages and voices that we are bombarded with daily?
To address these challenges, CCS developed an advocacy framework, I3, to distil and help the business community understand competition laws and its benefits through simple innovations and fun methods that explain the intricacies of competition law and economics.
II. Introducing I3 – CCS’ Advocacy Framework
Advocacy is the complimentary pillar to CCS’ enforcement efforts. CCS aspires to be innovative in our advocacy initiatives, as innovation will enhance the effectiveness of these initiatives. The I3 framework thus allows the Commission to embark on education efforts in a clear and defined manner, making such learnings more engaging, relevant and effective. The core pillars that form the I3 framework are-Inquire, Innovate, and Intrigue.
A. Inquire: Finding out the needs of different stakeholders
CCS believes that for an effective advocacy program to be successful, the Commission needs to have a deep understanding of the needs of stakeholders. The foundation of its advocacy program is the “CCS Awareness and Perception Survey” which was conducted in 2009 among 350 business community members and 800 consumers to build a foundation of deep insights grounded in market research and analysis.
Conducted through online surveys and focus group discussions, the findings of the survey demonstrated a relatively low level of awareness and also an urgent need for Small Medium Enterprises (“SMEs”) to understand competition policies and the impact they have on businesses. The results also found that while stakeholders see the perceived benefits of competition, not many know the intricacies around the law. These findings provided insights into stakeholders’ mindsets and formed a basis to propel CCS’ advocacy efforts in an attempt to connect competition policies and laws with these mindsets.
Segmenting our stakeholders makes it easier for CCS to innovate in advocacy. As each stakeholder group has different needs, CCS has developed a targeted approach to address each through extending beyond our online means of communications.
B. Innovate: Producing Innovative CCS’ Advocacy Materials
Our approach to simple innovations in advocacy materials has led to the production of short and succinct corporate videos and trailers that help visually demonstrate the harms and ills of anticompetitive acts such as cartels, bid-rigging, and price-fixing. CCS’ corporate video on cartels has utilized a creative “reversible script” that turns the businesses’ typical arguments (when defending themselves on why they participate in cartels) against them, illustrating the harms and ills of cartels in the process. Many competition agencies have requested copies of this corporate trailer. The trailer has also been recognized by the International Competition Network as one of the Best Antitrust Films. View the CCS Corporate Trailer with unique reversible script.
Although SMEs see the perceived benefits of competition, not many know the intricacies around the law. This is particularly important as the SMEs continue to expand their footprints into the ASEAN region. CCS’ corporate video titled “2-Minute Wonder” was produced to help SMEs understand the competition law and the impact it has on businesses. The video features hand-sketched comic drawings to explain the benefits of competition, as well as illustrate the harms and ills of anticompetitive acts (including cartels and price-fixing) and their significant effects on businesses.
These videos and trailers are also channelled back to our online platforms which helps drive greater outreach to spread the message.
C. Intrigue: Whetting stakeholders’ appetites
To ignite stakeholders’ curiosity about competition law and policy, CCS forges partnerships and collaborations with industry and government agencies to roll out a series of public education talks. These talks help to seed the initial curiosity about competition policy and law, as well as dispel any misconceptions the business community may have about the Competition Act.
III. Achieving Greater Advocacy Results
The ultimate test of any competition agency, whether young or established, is the impact it makes on the economy. Impact matters and early results from the Commission’s advocacy efforts have shown that web visitors are more likely to explore and spend twice the amount of time on CCS’ web portal than formerly. Furthermore, when public and private sector organisations offer to partner with CCS on outreach projects, and when they make requests for copies of CCS’ advocacy materials for their in-house use, it is an encouraging indication that CCS’ innovations in advocacy have been effective and are bearing fruit.
Innovative advocacy will complement CCS’ enforcement activities and help Singapore businesses remain competitive and in sync with the law. It is early days yet for CCS and its I3 Advocacy Framework, but the early signs point towards a good start.