Advertising: APCON launches full scale war on quackery

With developments in the nation’s integrated marketing communication space in the past few months, it seems there may be no hiding place, again for practitioners, within the ecosystem, who are not too willing to ‘play by the rule.’

Recently, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON),   made good its ‘enforcement’ threat, when it visited some military and police formations across the country to register its displeasure at the activities of some illegal practitioners, within those formations.

The apex ruling regulatory body in the industry had protested illegal advertising hoardings within the formations, a development made possible through the connivance of some practitioners and some officers within those formations.

For instance, the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA), an agency saddled with the responsibility of regulating outdoor advertising in the state, does not carry out such statutory functions within these military and police establishments, a development some illegal practitioners and unlicensed organisations have continued to take advantage of  to operate within these areas unchecked.

Interestingly, the apex regulatory body is not limiting the campaign to non-professionals alone. The body is of the view that such illegal acts thrive, with the connivance of some professionals within the industry, who prefer such route as a result of higher pecuniary gains.

For instance, such reservations was expressed by APCON in its letter written to one of the sectorial organisations in the industry, the Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), recently.

In the strongly-worded letter with reference number, (CLD/03/Vol.1/080/2016), dated 12th October, 2016,  titled-Practice of Non-Licenced Persons and Companies, duly signed by the Registrar/Chief Executive Officer, Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi and  sent to the MIPAN President, Dr Ken Onyeali-Ikpe,  APCON drew the attention of the body to this ‘unholy’ practice of some of its members.

“We wish to bring to your attention the practice by some of your member-companies who engage the services of non-registered/licenced persons and organisations and the purchase of advertising media space/airtime from such unregistered/unlicensed persons and organisations,” the letter stated.

The regulatory body reminded MIPAN of its responsibility as a key stakeholder in promoting growth within Nigeria’s integrated marketing communications industry by supporting true and registered practitioners and organisation.

“It is a violation of Nigeria Advertising Law and Regulation for persons not registered as advertising practitioners and organisations not licensed as advertising firms to practice advertising for gain and undertake the business of advertising.

“The Advertising Practitioners (Registration, etc) CAP and Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, Part IV, Section 17 and 18 refers,” APCON insisted.

Kankarofi further said that while the council is doing its best to stamp out the nefarious activities of these unlicensed organisations as well as non-practitioners, MIPAN member-organisations should hence stop patronising them.

“While we are doing our best to identify and sanction persons/organisations that practice/undertake the business of advertising illegally, we wish to request your cooperation by impressing it on your member-organisations to desist from dealing with non-practitioners/unlicensed organisations in their media purchase transaction,” Kankarofi urgeed Onyeali-Ikpe.

To achieve this, APCON advised MIPAN members to ensure recourse is made to verifying the registration/licence status of persons/organisations that approach them for advertising business transaction.

“It is a sign that APCON is now ready to take the bull by the horns, as far as regulating advertising in the country is concerned. The strategy is to ensure that all practitioners  register with the council, while organisations too are mandated to join different sectoral groups such as Outdoor Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (OAAN), Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), MIPAN  and others,” argued an industry practitioner, who would not want his name in print because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

Not a few, however, believe this move has become imperative since checks within the  out-of-home industry revealed the fact that the OOH industry has been at the receiving end of this unholy alliance between some MIPAN member-organisations and unlicensed organisations.

Investigations revealed that media independent agencies, curiously, prefer to deal with non-practitioners and unlicensed organisations because of the volume of discount they get from such transactions.

“The discounts are usually huge. They can’t get that from a professional, a licensed one, who is conducting such business legally. That is why most of them always preferring such route, that can’t last them the distance,” argued the practitioner.

Perhaps, the good news is the fact that APCON’s action is getting the necessary support.

For instance, among practitioners revealed that the military establishments had given those who own advertising hoardings within their barracks one month to secure all the necessary documentations from the Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria. A sign, perhaps, that this latest campaign may not be an exercise in futility.