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Don bemoans non-adherence to ethical standards in advertising


Rotimi Williams Olatunji

A professor of Public Relations and Advertising, Rotimi Williams Olatunji, has raised concerns on the existing lack of commitment to the highest ethical standards in advertising and public relations’ codes as well as regulatory frameworks. He has, therefore, called on practitioners to avoid offering bribes and purge their ranks of corrupt tendencies.

Olatunji, who is Dean, School of Communication, Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, also called for a change from advertising purely for products and services to advertising for advocacy and social change. He said advertisers should embed social responsibility messages in their commercials while the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) and the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) should mount campaigns around specific social and development issues.

He made these assertions while delivering the 63rd inaugural lecture series of LASU with the theme: ‘Advertising, Advertainment and the Rest of Us’ held at the university’s auditorium. He condemned existing negative use of sex appeals in commercials, warning that such should be discouraged within the context of Nigeria’s heterogeneous religious, cultural and ethical configurations.

The don said practitioners need to increase the usage of pidgin English in copywriting, along with Nigeria’s indigenous languages, adding that commercial messages should be more sensitive to Nigeria’s diverse languages, cultures, religions and other sensibilities.

“Parents, media and educational institutions should be more alive to their responsibilities and patriotic duties by encouraging responsible food culture, dressing habits, moral conduct and media literacy skills among their children and wards. Employers of labour should improve motivational packages that address the needs of employees in the media industries and must be committed to increased internal democracies”.

Specifically, he said messages that encourage indecency in dressing, nudity and all forms of pornography through advertising media should be jettisoned while advertisers and educational institutions should deploy advertainment, edutainment and infotainment devices along with Media and Information Literacy (MIL) skills for product promotional purposes, social learning, behavioural modification and social change.

Speaking on how to improve the fortune of the profession, he harped on the importance of following the global trend through recruiting the best set of candidates drawn from diversified academic backgrounds into postgraduate programmes in the field of advertising, public relations and other allied communication disciplines in order to open up the Nigeria space with the institution school of communication thereby setting the pace for others to follow.

“Stakeholders in the advertising industry should partner governments and multilateral bodies to enhance the attainment of the on-going United Nations Organizations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. We need increased and sustained collaboration between public relations firms, advertising agencies, research and scholars. Both town and gown should fuse while academic institutions should become more flexible by allowing professionals to participate in teaching and related academic activities, he stated.

On gender disparity in advertising and public relations practice in Nigeria, Olatunji pointed out that efforts must be put in place for greater gender equity through affirmative action in all aspects of marketing communications industry particularly with regards to involvement of female professionals in advertising agencies, advertisers’ associations, public relations firms, professional associations, regulatory bodies and policy making.

In a remark, the Vice-Chancellor of LASU, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun commended Prof. Olatunji for well researched and delivered paper noting that he has efficiently fulfilled his academic ritual to the institution. He appreciated students, guests and staff for their commitments towards the growth and development of the University.

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