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Minister tasks advertising practitioners on rebranding Nigeria

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• As Ufot takes charge as APCON Chair

THE Supervising Minister of Information, Chief Edem Duke has called on marketing communication practitioners to work assiduously to re-brand Nigeria from its negative image arising from the actions of a few bad eggs at home and abroad.

    Speaking while inaugurating the new Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) led by Udeme Ufot, as the Chairman, in Lagos, last week, Duke maintained that it has become germane for image management experts to strive to rebrand Nigeria appropriately because the negative image affects the not just investment inflow but all Nigerians. 

   The minister insisted that rebranding Nigeria is a public service that must concern all, stating that the Goodluck Jonathan Administration regards the advertising industry as an important stakeholder in rebranding Nigeria properly. 

   “Government expects to see greater involvement of Advertising practitioners in its social re-engineering and economic development programmes. With the inauguration of the Udeme led council, government expects to see advertising make the same impact it is reputed to make on the perception and profitability of brands, on the perception and indeed, development of the Nigeria brand.”

   Duke argued that the path to a glorious and respectable future of the industry is for practitioners to resolve to build and sustain a profession where its attachment to integrity and credibility should improve the public perception of the profession and the industry generally. 

   He observed that the efforts of yesteryears to evolve and nurture worthwhile respect for the profession and the practitioners are being diluted by infractions in the way practitioners have carried on.

  “We are all aware of the critical issues affecting the advertising practice and indeed Nigeria’s advertising industry. Unethical behaviours, sharp practices and unbridled pursuit of money have all added up to a depreciation of the profession’s value system.”

     The minister therefore enjoined all the sectorial groups being regulated by APCON to play by the rules and work within the confines of the code they swore to uphold. 

   While imploring practitioners to uphold professionalism and take ethical issue seriously, Duke urged the new APCON council to critically look into the issue of media debts. 

   “Ten years after your 2007 Media Summit to address nagging issues of industry debts, and adoption of global best practices, can we lay a strong claim to helping sustain a virile media in our beloved country, Nigeria? This is food for thought, especially as advertising prides itself as being the greatest supporter of a free and virile media.”

   He said that it is mandatory on APCON to encourage a much more serious adherence to responsibilities inherent in contracts with media houses and other groups.

  “For the new Governing Board of APCON, I wish to emphasize that today, you are accepting a major responsibility- a resolve to effect positive changes in the practice and bestow on the profession a new lease of life. You can do something about defaults that encumber on every step of your practice by enforcing industry-engineered regulations, including applying necessary sanctions,” Duke said. 

   The immediate past chairman of APCON, Lolu Akinwunmi, stated that APCON has a major role to play in ensuring that there is a faithful adherence to what the law says especially with the gazetting of the 5th code of the council. 

  He also noted that the new regime is not in place to stop foreign players or discourage them but to ensure that adequate and proper regulations are in place to ensure that the sector operates professionally. 

   The new APCON Chairman, Udeme Ufot, noted that having been in limbo for 18 months, a lot of work needs to be done to get APCON back to effectively playing its regulatory role, promising that the new council is committed to the growth and prosperity of the industry. 

   He maintained that to do this means the various aspects of APCON’s operations must be strengthened to enhance capacity to perform its duties.  

   “Acquisition of appropriate technology and equipment will enhance capacity for monitoring the media space across Nigeria. All of these and more will require funding for APCON. It is in the light of this that I must on behalf of the Council express my appreciation to Mr. President for re-instituting the subvention of APCON.”

  He urged the government to continue to see APCON more as a regulator that it is and therefore empower and adequately fund it to perform its statutory duties effectively.

   Ufot also noted that it is imperative that enforcement staff are highly motivated to enable them perform their duties without fear or favour.

   The APCON Chairman stated that if government fails to commit to the growth of advertising industry in Nigeria, it would then be diminishing the capacity of the country market, whilst boosting the capacity of others. 

   “If you think through the value chain of marketers, creative agencies, media agencies, outdoor agencies, models, voice over artists, film production companies and crews, content developers, makeup artists, digital programmers, set caterers and so on, the potential of employment of our youth by the advertising industry is enormous. 

  “This industry thrives on talent, and there is an abundance of talent in Nigeria. Consider the impact our movie, music and fashion industries have made and imagine how this can be catalyzed by a booming advertising industry. Our biggest resource is our people, especially our youth, 54 percent of whom are unemployed.”

   This, Ufot argued, is why a highly labour intensive and talent driven creative services industry like advertising and marketing communication deserve some encouragement through appropriate policies.

    He further said that APCON can only be as strong as the industry it regulates, so the stronger, more viable and professional the sectoral groups are, the stronger the industry will be and so also APCON, 

   Noting that the media as gatekeepers in the quest for responsible advertising must not fail in its role, he maintained that no desperation for advertising revenue should motivate the urge to expose uncertified advertising. 

  

   



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