Like the phoenix, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) is reborn as the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON). With this rebirth comes a new set of fangs and claws in the form of the ARCON Act 2022. Goodbye to the impotent APCON Act 2004. All hail the ARCON Act 2022.
Now, how potent are these new ARCON powers? See below excerpts from the Act passed into law by President Muhammad Buhari.
The Council shall…
(d) notwithstanding the provisions in any other Act, have exclusive power to determine, pronounce upon, administer, monitor and enforce compliance by persons and organisations on matters relating to advertisements, advertising, and marketing communication in Nigeria, whether of a general or specific nature.
2 (c) promote and encourage local content whilst entrenching best practices in the advertising industry in Nigeria.
8 The Council shall –
(hi) carry out investigation or inquiry considered necessary or desirable in connection with any matter relating to advertising, advertisement and marketing communications in Nigeria;
(j) ensure the preservation of Nigerian local content and use of indigenous skills as an important element in advertising, advertisement and marketing communication services in Nigeria and directed at the Nigerian market.
9. The Council shall have powers to –
(g) investigate and compel public and private organisations to produce advertising and marketing communications-related information;
(k) compel public and private organisations to disclose all advertising service providers engaged by them;
(r) upon violation of any provision of this Act, seal advertising department, marketing department or commercial departments of organisations and agencies upon obtaining court order;
So, you see, these are not trifling powers that ARCON now has. And unlike the halcyon days of APCON, ARCON’s jurisdiction now covers ALL agencies and advertisers, or “the client”.
ADVAN, the Advertisers Association of Nigeria, which wields the cash, is clearly not happy with this new power ARCON has acquired. In recent instances when ARCON has bared its teeth, ADVAN considers the power an overreach and meddlesome. ARCON disagrees.
I contend that power is at the centre of the tussle between ADVAN and ARCON. Let me introduce you to the Jide Power Equilibrium Principle, an epiphany given me in the sixth heaven.
You see, the total amount of power in the universe is constant. It cannot be increased or decreased but can be redistributed. If Object A increases in power, it means it has drawn away power from some other place or entity in its universe, say Object B, C or D. An entity can lose power to another but no new power is created. Power only moves between entities. Regardless of who gains or loses power, the total power in the universe will be constant. Will remain the same.
Look at it this way: I have four oranges, and you have four oranges. If I take away two oranges from you, I now have six oranges and you now have two. I am more, you are less. Yet the total number of oranges remains eight. Whatever subtraction or addition we do, the total number of oranges in the equation will always remain eight. Eight is the constant. So it is with power, according to the Jide Power Equilibrium Principle – JPEP.
It’s likely utter tosh and a hogwash theory. But if JPEP is true, then if ARCON increases in power, then either ADVAN or the agencies must decrease in power.
ADVAN can’t be happy with this state of affairs. Nobody likes to give up power. Not ADVAN. Not me. Or you.
Now, also in the ARCON 2022 Act, you would have noticed the copious use of the terms “advertising”, “advertisement”, “advertiser”, “advertisement agency” and “marketing communications.” Lest you think these terms pertain only to creative advertising agencies, below is how the ARCON Act 2022 define those terms.
Interpretation 63. In this Act –
“advertisement” means a notice, announcement, exposure, publication, broadcast, statement, announsorial, infomercial, commercial, hype, display, town cry, show, event, logo, payoff or trademark to promote, advocate, solicit, showcase, endorse, vote or support a product, service, cause, idea, person or organisation with the intention to influence, sway, actuate, impress, arouse, patronise, entice or attract a person, people or organisation by an identified sponsor irrespective of media, medium or platform;
“advertisement agency” means any agent, agency or organisation that engages in full advertising service, creative advertising, media buying, media planning, media brokerage, experiential marketing, activation, out of home advertising, brand consulting, brand management, digital advertising or any other advertising, marketing communications service;
“advertiser” means a person, private or public organisation that causes, requests, directs or pays for an advertisement advertising or marketing communications ideas to be created, developed, produced, executed, expose or that takes benefit of advertisement, advertising, and marketing communication services;
Marketing Communications” means any act, gesture, endeavour, execution, performance tactics or effort aimed at sharing promotional information, evoking emotion, creating awareness or encouraging demand for a product service, cause, idea, person or organisation through the use of public media, mass media, or any medium capable of disseminating information to the public directly, or indirectly, intentionally, or unintentionally.
What all these mean is that if you fart and it happens to smell like Channel No.5, ARCON has the power to regulate how and what you fart.
More importantly, the new Act coalesces all the Marcom agencies under ARCON’s wings. Whereas, under the APCON Act 2004, only creative advertising agencies cooped under APCON’s wings, under the ARCON 2022 Act, all agencies involved in marketing communications now have recourse to ARCON. AAAN – the Association of Advertising Agency of Nigeria. EXMAN – the Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria. MIPAN – the Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria. And OAAN – Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria. All are now under ARCON.
Marketing communication practice in Nigeria is about to change. For better or worse?
This is the first post in the x-ray series I will be doing on the tension between ARCON and ADVAN. I have dubbed the series “Who Is Thanos, ARCON or ADVAN?” Stay tuned!