STAKEHOLDERS in the nation’s integrated marketing communications industry, were with mixed feelings, as the Director General of the newly-christened Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), Dr. Lekan Fadolapo, unveiled the agency’s new name, and a new set of legislations, aimed at regulating advertising practice in Nigeria.
At the media event, held recently in Lagos, by ARCON, the agency’s DG had announced the successful signing into law the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) Bill, and the consequent change of name from Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) to ARCON, and its attendant new laws.
While some see the unveiling of another set of legislation, not too long after the unbundling of Advertising Industry Standards of Practice (AISOP), over which a sector of the industry is still at daggers drawn with the agency, as over-regulation of the nation’s advertising ecosystem; not a few are, however, of the belief that the industry is in dire need of such new legislation for it to be properly regulated.
Interestingly, the man in the middle of it all, the Director General of the agency believes there should be no cause for alarm, regarding the latest developments in the sector.
He explained that the new ARCON Act only repealed the existing APCON Act, promulgated in 1988 to enable the body effectively regulate and control the practice of advertisement in the country.
According to him, the new ARCON Act, puts the regulatory body in good stead to better carry out its statutory regulatory duties, since it takes care of noticeable gaps in the former APCON Act; while insisting they are parts of the bigger plans of enhancing inclusive growth in the sector.
The ARCON’s boss may not be wrong after all. For instance, prior to this latest development in the sector, not a few stakeholders believed some of the existing laws, then, had become obsolete, and as a result, are no longer capable of effectively regulating the practice of advertisements in the sector.
For instance, not a few had argued that the advent of the new media, had thrown up new challenges in the industry, which the old regulatory regime, could not address.
“Though there had been some attempts at capturing online ads in the past, I believe those attempts were feeble. Unfortunately, besides throwing decency and caution into the wind, most times, practitioners on this space have continued to make substantial amount of money, without paying the necessary dues to the relevant authorities. But I believe the new laws would do justice to those grey areas,” argued Mr. Tokunbo Barnes, a practitioner, in his chat with Brands & Marketing.
Barnes also welcomed the idea of the newly-created Advertising Offences Tribunal, meant to adjudicate over offences that have to do with advertising, advertisement and marketing communications infractions.
The creation of such tribunal, Barnes argued, would go a long way in aiding the reform agenda of the agency.
The decision to preserve local contents and encourage the use indigenous skills as an important element in advertising, advertisement and marketing communications, as contained in the new law, was also acknowledged by stakeholders.
Perhaps, more commendable, the stakeholders argue, is the agency’s decision to ‘walk the talk’ by announcing the immediate ban on use of foreign models and Voice –over artists on the nation’s advertising space, as from October 1, this year.
The ban, ARCON’s boss stated, was in tune with federal government’s policy of developing local talents, and the need to take some actions aimed at growing the nation’s advertising space.
Fadolapo explained that, while those with running campaigns would be allowed to conclude such campaigns, even if they exceed the October 1, 2022 deadline, new advertisements, advertising and marketing communications materials, must, however, make use of only Nigerian models and Voice-over artists, as from that date.
“All advertisements, advertising and marketing communications materials are to make use of only Nigerian models and Voice-over artists.
“Ongoing campaigns are permitted to run out their terms, however subsequent applications for revalidation for continued exposure of such materials will not be granted by the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP),” he added.
But in spite of the resolve and commitment of the agency at enhancing the nation’s IMC’s space as demonstrated by the new laws, there are areas that have continued to give stakeholders some goose pimples.
The new laws, some have argued, had given the agency absolute power, which they believe might not be in the industry’s interest.
For instance the idea of the agency, dipping its fingers in every marketing communications regulatory pie, stakeholders believe, might have the exact opposite of what the law intends to achieve.
The idea of having to vet even the ‘minutest’ communications materials, such as creative ratings, might leave the agency biting more than it can chew, they added.
“At the end of the day, it will just discover that it has its hands full of irrelevancies, while issues that should be given priority and utmost attention are left unattended to,” argued a stakeholder, who would not want his name in print.
Interestingly, while the ARCON’s boss agreed that the new laws had further enhanced the powers of the apex body to effectively regulate the industry, he however allayed fears of it being turned into a ‘monster’.
He insisted the council would only regulate to enhance inclusive growth.
“Stakeholders in the industry should be rest assured that we are not regulating to strangulate. All we plan to achieve with these new regulatory powers is to ensure good corporate governance and inclusive growth in the sector,” he added.
Fadolapo also explained that the agency is currently undergoing a massive capacity development of its staff to enable them, efficiently perform the new and daunting tasks before them.
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