FEW weeks after the nation’s judiciary temporarily put a halt to the face-off between Prima Garnet, one of the nation’s foremost advertising agencies and its foreign affiliate, Ogilvy Africa, Guinness Nigeria Plc again stirred the industry’s hornet’s nest recently, when it protested the recent decision of the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP) to make public the lifting on the ban of its alcoholic beverages certificates.

The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), the apex regulatory body in the nation’s marketing communications industry, through its Corporate Affairs Officer, Nkechi May-Nzeribe, had explained to the media that the decision to lift the ban was informed by the company’s compliance with the nation’s advertising code and its apology over the broadcast of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout adverts on Digital Satellite Television (DSTV), outside the prescribed periods allowed by APCON.

Article 39 of APCON Code of Advertising and Promotions guidelines, stipulates that: Advertisements for Alcoholic beverages shall not be aired between 6am and 8pm on radio and between 6.00am and 10.00 pm on television.

Interestingly, shortly after this decision was made public, the alcoholic beverages company also fired its own salvo, accusing the regulatory body, especially the Chairman of ASP, Mr. Akin Akinde, of standing the truth on the head.

According to its Director, Corporate Relations, Mr. Sesan Sobowale, the company had already withdrawn the advertisement in question before the meeting of the APCON Council which endorsed the recommendation of the ASP to impose sanction on the company.

He argued that the decision by ASP to recommend the withdrawal of the sanction imposed on Guinness Nigeria Plc followed a meeting between the management of the company, its marketing and media agencies and APCON in which the company established that it was not in breach of the relevant provision of the Code of Advertising Practice and Sales Promotion as of the date the decision by APCON was taken.

While accusing the chairman of the Panel, Mr. Akin Akinde of misleading the Council of APCON into arriving at its decision to withdraw the certificates of approval earlier issued to the company, the company is further irked that Mr. Akinde, contrary to his assurances at the meeting with management of Guinness Nigeria Plc and its agencies not to give undue publicity in the media to the decision of the Council of APCON to endorse the Panel’s recommendations to sanction the company, ASP had gone to two media houses to make the ‘erroneous’ decision public.

“While the ASP was busy making unwarranted recommendations to the Council of APCON, it has continued to display wilful blindness in relation to similar advertising during the EUFA Champions’ League which was placed by another player in the alcohol beverage industry before the watershed period for alcoholic products advertising on television. As of one week ago, this advertising still featured prominently during the airing of the European Champions’ League matches. Under the circumstances, can we genuinely trust the ASP and/or its Chairman, Mr. Ade Akinde to deliver unbiased decisions on matters within its remit?” he asked rhetorically.

Interestingly, as weighty as some of these allegations are, a member of the Panel who would not want his name in print since the case is now with the APIP, the judicial arm of APCON, stated that the alcoholic beverage company was only shouting wolf there is none.

According to him, “the company violated Article 39 of APCON Code of Advertising and Promotions guidelines, by airing Guinness ‘made of more’ campaign on DSTV platform on Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 at 4.40pm between Ghana and Cape Verde. So what exactly is the company talking about?” he argued.

He believes it is part of the gang-up by some of the foreign brands to frustrate the reforms going on within the nation’s advertising space, while citing the case of a new foreign advertising agency in the country, whose chief executive had reportedly cast aspersion on the industry and its operators and vowed to resist the new advertising code, even if it means going to court.

Source: Nigerian Tribune



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