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Doing APCON right- 7 Things to Note

  1. APCON’s powers are quite broad and sweeping. It is empowered by law (The Advertising Practitioners Registration Act No. 55 of 1988, as amended by Act No. 93 of 1992 and Act No. 116 of 1993 – now Advertising Practitioners Registration Act Cap A7 of 2004) to regulate advertising practice in Nigeria. In undertaking its vision of promoting responsible and ethical advertising, it is vested with the powers to regulate and control the practice of advertising in Nigeria, in all its aspects and ramifications. In this regard and although it hasn’t figured out a framework to do it, APCON maintains online advertising is within its purview.
  2. The categories (of products and services) described as requiring pre-exposure vetting/approval are just as broad and open-ended. Covering food, consumables, telecommunications, household products, real estate, religious programs, political advertising, in short, practically every type of paid-for messaging. So maybe it is better to highlight the things that are exempted – job vacancies, public notices, financial statements, goodwill messages, obituaries and immemorial are the only mass-communications explicitly exempted.
  3. Specific requirements for vetting include a formal letter of application for vetting (addressed to the Registrar/CEO, APCON), filled ASP form 001 duly signed by a registered advertising practitioner, the product’s NAFDAC/ SON Certificate or payment advice (for all food and drug-related products),  advertiser’s letter of authorization authorizing the filing of the application, the material to be advertised – concept version for television, radio, press, outdoor, online, bus branding, etc.
  4. Three vetting windows are available. The standard 2-week window costs twenty-five thousand Naira (25,000.00) per concept and two accelerated window options – the 8-hour and 16-hour windows which cost two hundred and eighty thousand Naira (280,000.00) and one hundred and fifty thousand Naira only (150,000.00) respectively. Talking about concepts, artworks are billed separately for different media, so for the same campaign, the out-of-home advertising and radio execution will be paid for and vetted separately. 
  5. Breaches are severely and immediately punished. When it establishes breeches to its extant regulations (through its zonally dispersed monitoring units), APCON basically sanctions all concerned parties (advertiser, advertising agency/supplier, advertising practitioner -five hundred thousand Naira each -500,000.00). Notice of the main breach though is directed, in writing, to the advertiser, so, ultimately, the responsibility of ensuring pre-exposure vetting and compliance with the law is that of the advertiser. 
  6. Substantiation is the central theme of the vetting process. Through its Advertising Standard Panel (ASP), concepts are checked for descriptions, claims, or illustrations made in the advertisement. Such proof or substantiation is required to be made available. Evidence is further required in respect of superlative or comparative claims made in advertisements. Testimonials or endorsements made in any advertisement are subject to proof. Specifically, claims of being No.1 in any product category are considered deceptive and are expected to be avoided. Advertisements are not expected to contain any description, claims or illustration, which directly or by implication convey an erroneous or misleading impression about the product or service advertised or about its suitability for the purpose recommended.
  7. The Advertising Standard Panel (ASP) is APCON’s highest statutory committee established by law. The Panel is composed of 22 members drawn from diverse interests in the advertising industry and saddled with vetting and approval of advertising materials before exposure in the media by making sure advertising conforms with the prevailing laws of the Federation as well as the codes of ethics of the advertising profession.

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