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Top IMC Industry Issues That Rocked 2022 (2)

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In the first part of this story, we examined some actions, reports, incidents, trends, and activities that created notable disruptions in 2022. Those issues collectively made 2022 both challenging and exciting in the history of Nigeria’s marketing communications industry.  Below, in the concluding part of this report, are the remaining issues that rocked the IMC world in Nigeria in the last twelve months.

New Policy Of 75% Local Content For Nigerian Adverts– First Hammer Lands On Foreign Models, Voice-Over Artists

When the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria, ARCON, declared that all advertising advertisement and marketing communication materials directed at the Nigerian market must have a minimum of 75% cumulative local content, most observers felt it was one of those casual announcements from a government agency just for the record.

Now stakeholders can agree that the Director-General of ARCON, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo can bite just as it can bark.

In giving the rationale for the move, ARCON stated that the directive is in line with the current efforts of the Federal Government aimed at job creation, inclusive growth, and development of various sectors of the economy.

Lamenting that the Nigerian Advertising industry loses over N120bn annually to the production of advertising, advertisement, and marketing communication materials outside the country, ARCON revealed, “This has continuously led to loss of jobs in the industry, retarding the growth and development of the Nigerian advertising industry.”

The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria, ARCON, must have realized that only tough actions, not fanciful explanations and words can yield the desired local content in advertising and marketing communications.

Dr Olalekan Fadolapo, DG, ARCON

Pronto! The earth-shaking announcement came – a total ban on the use of foreign models and voice-over artists in Television Commercials (TVCs) and other related materials including billboards that would run in the country with effect from the 1st of October, 2022. 

Giving further details on the issue, ARCON revealed, “models and voice-over artists must be Nigerian citizens. Production of advertising, advertisement, and marketing communication materials must be done in Nigeria and the ambience should reflect Nigeria as much as possible.

“Production crew may include foreigners. However, Nigerian and Nigerian organizations must partake in the production.  Post-production may be done at any location (within or outside Nigeria).”

ARCON further explained that the new policy is to enable Nigerians and the Nigerian economy to benefit from an industry that has benefitedtremendously from Nigerians as consumers and the Nigerian economy.

“Annually, this policy will create over 500,000 new job opportunities within the advertising industry with a positive multiplier effect on the economy. Current job holders will be protected as the Nigerian advertising ecosystem will witness progressive growth. The new policy will also attract investment to the industry.

This policy did not land without some resistant, even from key players within the industry. In a statement from the Executive Council of the Advertisers Association of Nigeria, (ADVAN) the advertisers’ sectoral group said that “It is ADVAN‘s standpoint that the recent ban on foreign models, was not well thought out. It is a poorly researched and ineffective attempt at seeking a solution for sustainable growth in the advertising industry.

“Nigeria, as a country in the global economy, has an expatriate policy which allows for non-Nigerians to be gainfully and legally employed by Nigerian organisations, in adherence to the stipulations of the law, adding that “Any such ban contravenes the aforementioned policy, and presents Nigeria – a country that has a significant percentage of its population seeking income opportunities outside Nigeria, as a strict, insular, and nonreciprocal society. It is a widely known fact that Nigerian models, creatives, and voice-over artists are also beneficiaries of the friendly cross-border work/trade interactions that currently exist. This ban puts a distinct demography of Nigerians of employable age – especially youths who make up alarge number of those in this space, at a significant disadvantage with their global counterparts.” However, will ARCON adjust its position in 2023?

Influencers, Bloggers, Skitmakers, Others Not Spared.

The ongoing fundamental changes aimed at improving the practice and business of advertising in Nigeria was extended to Nigeria’s online community in 2022.

ARCON had noted that it has received several complaints on the advertisements, advertising, and marketing communications activities of skit makers, comedians, influencers, content creators/producers, bloggers, vloggers, etc on digital/online media platforms.

On these complaints, the apex advertising regulatory body in the country noted, “most of the advertisements exposed by this group are not only unethical with unverified claims and misinformation, but also in violation of the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice.

“By this public notice, brand owners, digital agencies, secondary digital media space owners (i.e. bloggers, vloggers, influencers, comedians, skit makers, etc) and other advertising stakeholders in the digital/online media space are advised to obtain pre-exposure approval of all advertisements, advertising and marketing communications in accordance with the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice and the ARCON Act No. 23 of 2022.”

Sounding a note of warning to those who may violate the directive, ARCON noted that it will not hesitate to take all necessary actions including sanctions and prosecution of violators of the provisions of the Act to ensure full compliance.

This directive has been received across boards, with mixed feelings. Following its issuance, skitmakers and influencers have expressed dismay while others consider it a joke. Expressing incredulity, singerBigiano said the federal government is out to terrorize the citizenry. Brand Influencer and entrepreneur, Pamilerin Adegoke @thepamilerin called the directive an outright joke. Comedian Usiaphe Kelvin @Whalemouth1 joked, “soon government will say all grandmothers going for Omugwo must pay taxes.”

Enubianozor Collins ‘Mecoyo’, an actor, comedian and skit maker says ARCON’s priorities are misplaced as he believes the regulatory agency’s directive should be targeted at the advertisers directly and not to skit makers, influencers or even the platform as the case should be.

Hayat Kimya vs Mainsail Media: Industry Debt Issue Hits The Front Burner

Before ARCON threatened publicly to sanction Hayat Kimya Limited, a Turkish-owned FMCG firm over N481bn debt owed to one of Nigeria’s media planning and buying agencies, Mainsail Media Ltd, the issue of debt in the industry was always discussed in hushed tones generally. Specifics were rarely mentioned.

ARCONs press statement on this issue changed things dramatically. It promptly attracted another press release from ADVAN that accused ARCON of seeking to meddle in an unwholesome manner, in a contractual dispute bordering on alleged fraud that is currently the subject of investigations by the appropriate law enforcement agency(ies).

According to ADVAN, ARCON’s statement “reeks of an underhand attempt to subvert an ongoing process in what has been alleged a criminal issue. This is against the rule of law as espoused by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration”.

“ADVAN, therefore, wants to use this medium to reiterate that Hayat Kimya Ltd, a member of ADVAN, is a responsible and law-abiding organization in Nigeria,” the statement stated.

“It is an overreach for ARCON as a regulatory institution, to demand an outcome in an ongoing business and contractual dispute, that has already been reported to relevant authorities when it is neither a law enforcement agency nor a court of law.

 “We would like to reiterate that the entire industry is better served in an atmosphere of collaboration, mutual respect, and trust. We, therefore, enjoin ARCON and other relevant stakeholder associations to see businesses-who represent the bulk of advertisers in Nigeria, as partners in progress,” the statement reassured.

The ADVAN President, Osamede Uwubanmwem stressed that ADVAN was a very active member of the debt reconciliation committee set up by APCON, in 2012, to investigate and seek out a lasting solution to the purported industry debts, and ADVAN continues to serve in various committees on ARCON.

Responding, the Director-General of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria, Olalekan Fadolapo further explained that ARCON had held a meeting between involved parties, during which it gave sectoral groups seven days to resolve the conflict.

In his words, “Hayat reached out to ARCON before the expiration of the date. They wrote to ARCON to seek another opportunity to resolve the issue. We are not regulating to strangulate. We want to give everybody an opportunity for a fair hearing.

“We scheduled a meeting. In that meeting, the lawyer of Hayat, the Managing Director of Hayat led his own team. The other sectoral groups, the president of ADVAN was there and the three sectoral groups that were affected. Mainsail and its lawyer were also there. The issue was discussed. The conclusion was that they would give them another seven days to resolve the issue.” Will the debt challenge be tamed in 2023? 

Opposition Mounts Against AISOP

When Fadolapo’s APCON started like a knife-in-butter, introducing on October 6, 2021, the Advertising Industry Standard of Practice (AISOP) and other subsequent lightning changes, observers noted that it would be a matter of time before stakeholders uncomfortable with this Tsunami fight back. The task of Championing the campaign to neutralize what is seen by many as the negative aspects of AISOP has fallen on a hitherto very conservative body, the Advertisers Association of Nigeria, (ADVAN).

ADVAN President, Osamede Uwubanmwen

Coincidentally ADVAN is currently under a very vociferous  President, Osamede Uwubanmwem, who has pointed out consistently what his group does not like about the current ARCON.

One area of contention in the new legislation is the rule on payment terms. In 2022, Advertisers have consistently called for an urgent review because they believe AISOP should not dictate the terms of any contract, rather it should allow parties to agree on their terms.

These are the words of ADVAN President on this issue in 2022. “I am the Vice President of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). We relate with advertisers across the globe. When I took this issue to them, they said they don’t have it anywhere in the world where they talk about contracts and agreements publicly. If there is any contract and agreement- on how you pay, it should always be a talk between party A and party B. If there are issues the two will now see how they can walk around it. The contract term is basically how much, when you will pay, how you will pay, and how you resolve the crisis.

“Take a genuine contract and benchmark it with AISOP, how will the idea around it bring best global practices? How good are we in other areas of best global practices? If we want to pursue best practices, is it not reasonable to start with what we give out first and then move to what comes in? How good are we at making sure the agencies pay their staff well? How good are we at making sure that the agencies recruit and train the right brains? You can’t get it through this shallowness in delivery”.

With this position, how easy will it be for ARCON to enforce this rule, especially, when the current economic situation might make it very difficult for most struggling agencies and media houses to stand their ground?

With some rapport and rubbing of minds between the body of advertisers and ARCON, will there be room for any shift in 2023? Only time will tell.

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