Former Chairman of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Chief Olu Falomo, is not happy with government’s involvement in the regulatory body for Advertising practice in Nigeria, saying that some of the challenges facing the industry in Nigeria could be blamed on government’s role in APCON.
He told MARKETING EDGE recently in Lagos that the way forward for the industry was for operators to encourage government to hands-off the council so that the industry can be regulated properly by those who have the passion and know-how to grow the advertising profession.
Falomo, who was part of the decision to set up the council, sounded regretful of government’s role in the agency; noting that the original plan was not for government to take over control of APCON but merely to offer statutory powers to the body to enable it carry out its regulatory duties effectively.
“The advertising professionals drew their own laws and asked government to give it a stamp. We could not have taken off without the involvement of government, so we had to bring in them in. What we are experiencing now is the repercussion of bringing government into APCON”, he said.
To many observers, the involvement of government in APCON has led to what they have described as the over-politicization of the Council. The agency has sometimes been used as a tool for political settlement, contrary to the main purpose and spirit for setting up the council, which was to drive professionalism and ethical conduct in the industry.
And though the Act setting up APCON demands that it be run by a council, composed mainly of advertising professionals; sometimes, government has appointed non-professionals to head the council, and at other times (just like now) APCON has been left without a council, thus rendering the agency largely impotent and unable to function properly.
In the absence of an APCON Council, the industry has been run without proper checks and balances. And the lacuna has been exploited by some multinationals who hire foreign advertising agencies and pay them billions of naira to handle their campaigns, in clear violation of APCON laws.
Continuing, Chief Falomo noted that the way forward was for the operators in the industry to stand their ground and insist that APCON must be professionally run in accordance with the Act.
In Falomo’s words, “Like we did in our time, if anybody wanted to impose anybody from government on us we resisted it and we’ll continue to resist it. This is a profession and government should listen to professionals. What does the government know about advertising?”