PR and Ad agencies protest ARCON clampdown on Instagram and other social media advertising

PR and Ad agencies protest ARCON clampdown on Instagram and social media advertising

The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON)has issued a fresh warning to companies, agencies and bloggers that all advertising on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and all other social media platforms must be pre-approved.

Several prominent brands, banks, and multinationals have already been notified and slammed with heavy fines for violating the new social media advertising guidelines. Public relations and marketing agencies in the country are furious about this.

Companies that fail to pay the penalty and remove the Instagram and social media adverts will be summoned before an advertising tribunal in April followed by lawsuits.

While specific names of the companies and banks haven’t been released to the public, the move by ARCON signifies stricter enforcement of the new controversial regulations.

The Council has been vocal about its concerns regarding unauthorized advertisements, particularly those spread by social media influencers and content creators.

Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo the Chief Executive Officer/Director-General of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), said “this is part of our ongoing efforts to sanitising the advertising industry in Nigeria and stop the false claims made in some advertising content on social media.”

The ARCON guideline on social media advertising has come under severe criticism by ADVAN, AAAN, legal experts and public relations agencies for its complexity and lack of clarity in some areas.

According to a top public relations consultant, “ it is complex, unrealistic and unnecessary. ARCON does not have the capacity to monitor all the social media advertising in Nigeria. This is not done anywhere in the world.”

Impact on the advertising and public relations landscape

The ARCON Act and the latest crackdown on social media advertising represent a major policy shift in Nigeria’s PR and advertising landscape. Here are some implications:

Stricter Compliance and Approval Process:
  • Public relations (PR) and advertising professionals will need to navigate a more rigorous approval process. All advertisements, whether on traditional media or social platforms, must now receive ARCON’s approval before publication.
  • Agencies and brands will need to allocate additional time and resources to ensure compliance with the guidelines.
Shift in Content Creation Strategies:
  • PR teams will need to adapt their content creation strategies to align with ARCON’s regulations. Crafting campaigns that resonate with local audiences while adhering to the guidelines will be essential.
  • Brands may need to rethink their influencer marketing approaches, ensuring that influencers comply with ARCON’s rules.
Local Talent Promotion:
  • The ban on foreign voice-over artists and models encourages the use of Nigerian talent. PR professionals will play a crucial role in identifying and promoting local voices and faces.
  • Brands can leverage this opportunity to create authentic and relatable content that resonates with the Nigerian audience.
Challenges in Real-Time Marketing:
  • Real-time marketing, common on social media platforms, may face challenges due to the approval process. PR teams must strike a balance between agility and compliance.
  • Brands will need to plan ahead and anticipate potential delays in campaign execution.
Consumer Trust and Transparency:
  • The ARCON Act prioritizes consumer interests by preventing misleading or harmful advertisements. PR efforts should focus on building trust with consumers through ethical messaging.
  • Brands that prioritize transparency and authenticity will likely gain consumer loyalty.
Emergence of Digital PR Specialists:
  • With ARCON’s jurisdiction extending to online advertising, the demand for digital PR specialists will increase. These experts will navigate the intricacies of social media campaigns while ensuring legal compliance.
  • Crisis management and reputation protection will become critical skills in this evolving landscape.
Financial and legal consequences:
  • Advertisers may face additional financial burdens, including vetting fees. The cost of vetting advertisements could impact advertising budgets.
  • PR professionals will need to communicate these changes to clients and manage expectations.

ARCON’s regulations signal another era of accountability and transparency. Public relations and advertising practitioners must adapt swiftly, balancing creativity with legal compliance to thrive in this evolving landscape.

ARCON  insists that its goal is to strike a balance between creativity and compliance.

Time will decide.

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