Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria(APCON) is still on the verge of getting rid of unhealthy practices andpromoting responsible ethical advertising practice in the Nigerian advertising industry.
APCON, through its Advertising Standards Panel (ASP), has embarked on reformative steps. Setting up steps to settle issues related to debt between agencies and media owners. They formed the APCON Special Committee on Media Debt Issue (ASCOMDI), which was inaugurated in 2007.
ASP, on the other hand, is a statutory committee of the council, which was set up by law to ensure compliance with advertising standards and laws in Nigeria.
Well, it’s no news that Guinness Nigeria plc has been under the radar of APCON.Over the past years, APCON had sanctioned Guinness by suspending the company’s certificates for alcoholic beverages advertising for failing to adhere to the ‘watershed’ timing of beaming advertisement of alcoholic drinks to Nigerians which happened during the 2012 AFCON football fiesta in South Africa, and the English Premiership League, EPL, which was beamed in live by Digital Satellite Television, DSTV and aired on some Nigerian television stations.
In 2013, APCON through the panel also sentenced Guinness to a prohibition of all advertisements of its alcoholic beverages for violation of advertising statutes in Nigeria. According to the APCON committee, the action was taken to stop “impunity and disregard of the law” irrespective of the standing or size of the personae involved.
There was even a time when a media war broke out between Guinness Nigeria plc.and APCON, with both parties trading word on the pages of newspapers and on the internet accusing each other of bias and victimization.
Guinness accused APCON of bias and discrimination,describedthe issue asdeliberate falsehood, stating that there was no basis for the sanction as the company had withdrawn the offending adverts even before APCON council met to sanction it.
Though the ban was later lifted, APCON said the ban was lifted because Guinness complied by withdrawing all advertisement that had been scheduled to run and apologized over the broadcast of the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout adverts on DSTV, and prescribed to periods allowed by the APCON Codes of Advertising and Promotion guidelines.
Meanwhile some people were sympathetic to Guinness, saying that the judgment was considered to be too harsh and autocratic because it required Guinness to comply immediately, there were even questions like whether there is equity in APCON and advertising practice in Nigeria or not.
Now, fast-forward to 2015, the neverending war continues betweenAPCON and Guinness Nigeria Plc.
This past February, APCON banned all alcohol advertising from Guinness Nigeria Plc over what it titled, “Deliberate breach of the code’s Article 39”
The advert, “Guinness Colorful World of More”was learnt, did not pass through the Advertising Standards Panel, ASP.
The code states that “advertisements for alcohol beverages shall not be aired between 6.00am and 8.00pm on radio and between 6.00am and 10.00pm on television.”The Article 34 for outdoor advertising also says that advertisements for alcohol beverages shall not be sited within a radius of 200 meters from nearest perimeter fence of any place of worship, hospital, school, or motor parks.
TundeThani, ASP Advertising Best Practice Committee Chairman, stated at a press briefing to herald the forthcoming ASP Advertising Best Practice Awards /Advertising Day celebration, that “There is no way ASP could seat and allow any advertiser to plan such campaign that runs contrary to the advertising code.
The ban was later lifted. whichaccording to APCON, says the ASP’s decision to lift the ban on Guinness alcohol advertisement was decided after a written letter from the Marketing & Innovation Director of Guinness Nigeria, Austin Ufomba, which assured that in future, the brand would not be involved in any breach of the APCON code of advertising practice, and announced a withdrawal of all its advertisement expectedto run in that period.
Thani, also wondered why newspaper would expose such an advert to the publicwithout minding what it connotes to the public, particularly the under aged, advising advertising managers and journalists to put ethics above finance and not the other way round.
APCON has restatedits position that no individual or company is above the law, and would sanctions any erring organization no matter how big or influential.
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