ARCON AND MEDIA REGULATION
In August 2022, the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria Act, 2022 (“Act“) was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari. Pursuant to the powers conferred on the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (“ARCON” or “Council”) under the Act and the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice, the Council on Monday 12th December 2022 issued a public notice (“Public Notice”) to mandate skit makers, social media influencers, and bloggers among others to seek its approval before advertising any product or service online.
In other words, all 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 media space are required to obtain pre-exposure approval of all advertisements, advertising, and marketing communications that they present on social media.
It is important to note that Section 2 of the Act clearly states that the provision of the Act applies to all individuals, corporate bodies, governments, sponsors, or persons who make or take the benefit of advertising services, advertisement and marketing communications. Furthermore, the functions and powers of the Council under the Act extend to (a) the regulation and control of advertising, advertisements and marketing communications in all its aspects/ramifications as directed at or exposed to the Nigerian market [Section 8 (a)]; (b) the monitoring and enforcement of sanctions imposed on any person or organisation that sponsors, exposes or causes to be exposed in Nigeria, any advertising, advertisement and marketing communications materials without prior approval of the Advertising Standards Council [Section 9(f)]
Section 63 of the Act defines:
“Advertisement” as a notice, announcement, exposure, publication, broadcast, statement, announcorial, 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.
“Advertising” as any act, action, activity, construct or undertaking directly, or indirectly, intentionally, or unintentionally, aimed at creating, planning, strategising, managing, developing, producing, propagating, servicing or facilitating an advertisement, brand or marketing communications ideas
Implications – Page 6
Since the creation of several social media platforms, advertisements and the art of advertising have transitioned from traditional channels (print, billboards, broadcasting – radio and television, direct mail- catalogues etc) to digital marketing channels that provide a wider reach, more competitive costs and can access a wider demography. Thus bloggers, vloggers, influencers, comedians and skit makers operating on various social media platforms have become veritable means of communicating, marketing, advertising and providing visibility to brands and service providers across Nigeria.
The joint reading of the foregoing legal provisions and the Public Notice thereby connote that any advertisement or advertising, whether written, audio, visual or printed that is targeted at a Nigerian audience and undertaken digitally to advertise, influence and market a brand on social media platforms by bloggers, vloggers, influencers, comedians, skit makers and other creatives is within the purview of the Council and subject to the prior approval of the Council before publication/ broadcast.
The process for the approval of the Council starts with Registration:
- The Registration is provided for in provisions for licensing of different categories of advertising and marketing, communication organizations and firms engaged in advertising and marketing communications business which is directed at the Nigerian market;
- After registration, the applicant is issued a certificate of registration or license to any person or organization indicating the relevant category and area of specialization they can operate.
There is no doubt that the strict enforcement of the Public Notice will have sweeping effects on the advertising community and creatives in the industry. This ensures the Act brings online entrepreneurs and social media entities within its purview and subject to the authority of ARCON.