he Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), has clarified insinuations making the rounds, especially in the online media that the apex advertising regulatory agency is charging fees of up to N25, 000 to vet advertisement placed online in Nigeria.
Mrs Ijedi Iyoha, Registrar of the agency, in an exclusive interview with DAILY INDEPENDENT recently, said it is pertinent to inform the online publishers to submit their advertisement communication materials to the agency for vetting before exposure to the public to safeguard the public from misleading and deceitful advertisement as is applicable to other advertisement channels like newspapers, radio, television and outdoors.
She said there was never a time in their communications to the online publishers that APCON asked a fee for the vetting, explaining further that the purpose of the vetting has been to safeguard public interest against unscrupulous claims in their advertisements.
“We decided that since we are already vetting online, we should sensitise people to know that we are going to be regulating some of the advertisement carried online.
“As a result of that information, some people went to our website, may be to check what is APCON and how we do our vetting, and they saw the vetting guidelines, saw the amount we charge for vetting, picked that page, photocopied it and attached it to the letter we wrote them and started distributing it online claiming that APCON is charging N25,000 fees for vetting online adverts. We have never charged any SMEs N25,000; and I want to make it clear that we are not targeting any SME.
Mrs. Iyoha also made it clear that if anyone is advertising something like, for instance, pure water and in the communications messages it say ‘take this pure water, it will refresh you, it will quench your thirst’, APCON will allow you to expose it . “But if you are advertising pure water and made a claim that drinking the pure water will make you, who is about ten inches tall to grow up to 25 inches, then we will come after you to come and substantiate the claim.
“That is what I meant by regulating the online advertisement. We are not interested in your money; we are interested in the communications you are passing to the vulnerable consumers and people out there who are ignorant of what you are saying.
“So, the issue is just to sensitiSe the public to let them know that before you put out anything let us know about it so that we can advise you better”.
The APCON boss said the process of vetting online advertisement has been simplified, taking into consideration the need for speed and time.
She explained further that for online which require instant broadcast, it is instant vetting. “I am not going to ask you to drop the communication material and come back the following day, except if there is a claim; if there is a claim, of cause, I will ask you to come and substantiate it. It depends on the number of weeks, months and years you are able to substantiate your claims in the advertisement before you get approval.
She said vetting advertisement for online publication is something that can be done within minutes and it is approved. “There was no attachment to the copy of the directives and there was no mention of fees on that letter”.
She, however, pointed out that all vetting guideline and all the procedures and fees to be paid are on the agency website.
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