By Tunde Oso
The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) has rolled out plans to regulate online advertising in the country in a bid to sanitize the industry and curb inflammatory advertising messages.
The Registrar/Chief Executive, APCON, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, made this disclosure to newsmen at the press conference held at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos on Monday.
He said APCON will clamp down on individuals and organisations that engage in advertising without being first licensed by APCON. He added that the council is ready to ensure compliance of online advertisement with the provisions of the Nigerian code of advertising practice, sales promotions, and other rights/restrictions on the practice. He, therefore, urged brands, marketing communications professionals, and other stakeholders to ensure their online adverts are vetted by Advertising Standards Panel (ASP) before they are run.
Similarly, he urged elective political office aspirants to ensure that their political advertisements are vetted and approved by the ASP before exposure on any medium. “With the electioneering season at hand, elective political office aspirants are also implored to ensure that their political advertisements are vetted and approved by the ASP before exposure on any medium. This will diminish the repugnant influence of hate speech and unethical political communication in the country.”
Furthermore, Fadolapo revealed that the council has been inundated with petitions over unethical advertisements exposed on the online media platforms targeting the Nigerian market by both the primary and secondary digital media platform owners.
Recall, that a recent online advert by a bank triggered a national outburst that many described as offensive. The advert compared the resurrection of Jesus Christ with “Agege Bread”. The advertisement reads, “Like Agege Bread, He Rose!” Since then the call for sanitising the online space has become more intense than ever.
Fadolapo explained that a lot of advertising pops up on blogs and social media which are not met for children or against the belief of some of the people in the country among others without passing APCON vetting. He noted that APCON’s regulation of online advertisement extends to all advertisements broadcast, published, or expose on any of the digital platforms directed or accessible within Nigeria.
“With the increase of digital media activities in Nigeria and accessibility of online media platforms, we have been faced with a new threat of unethical and provocative advertising and marketing communication materials which have every potential of inflaming religious crisis, moral decadence, and misleading information when allowed to thrive with attendant negative effect on the country, its economy and value system.”
“The advent of the internet and new media, characterized with social networking sites such as Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc., has revolutionized communication globally. All the giant tech and primary digital media platforms owners such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc have been exploring the Nigeria digital media space with all sorts of advertisements some of which violate the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice, pre-exposure vetting, and ethical requirements of an advertisement.
“These days, many people are bloggers and influencers offering themselves, their services, blogs, and media handles as platforms for products and services to be advertised on without recourse to accepted principles and ethics of the advertising practice. The sharp increase in violation and infraction of the Nigerian Code of Advertising is not only worrisome but also portends danger.”
Fadolapo emphasised that “APCON will like to reiterate that advertising is a distinguished profession like medicine, law, accounting, etc. the practice of advertising is governed by APCON law as stated in sections 1 and 17 of the acts. it is illegal and criminal for anyone to practice advertising without being first registered by APCON. The Council will clamp down on all individuals and organisation that engage in advertising without being first licensed by APCON.”
“APCON is committed to ensuring that the advertising ecosystem is sanitized and shall not shy away from pursuing all lawful means, including causing the prosecution of violators of the Act and the Code of Advertising Practice when violation occurs.”