Gloria Ikegbule and Chima Amaechi
Ijedi Philomena Iyoha is the acting registrar/chief executive officer of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON). Ijedi holds a Master’s Degree in Mass Communications from the University of Lagos. is a seasoned advertising practitioner with over 25 years of experience
A seasoned advertising practitioner with over 25 years of experience, Ijedi who took the helm of affairs from Alhaji Garba Bello Kankarofi about a year ago talks about her vision for the agency and corrected some public misconceptions about the agency
She spoke to Daily Sun recently in her Lagos office
Taking about complying with code of practice, we observed there is a double standard in penalty for TV commercial on alcoholic beverage on DSTV and terrestrial TV channels. Why this double standard?
You call it double standard but it is not double standard to us. We have our code of advertising practice. We don’t allow commercials on radio or TV before 10pm. What I mean by commercials is showing the product, pouring the drink, drinking it in whatever ambiance you want to portray that product. For DSTV, what we allow is sponsorship. If there is an agency or multinational that is sponsoring a particular program using alcohol, we allow them to show the product pack, the logo and slogan not the commercial. Those are the two different things. You can’t just come without sponsoring any event or program and start advertising, we don’t allow it.
So, when you see it maybe they are playing a football match because mostly football matches, that is where you will see such things. Not only on DSTV both on terrestrial radio or TV, it can be aired if it is a sponsored program.
Why is airing of such adverts at early evening belts allowed only on a sponsored programmes?
It is because they are the ones sponsoring. Their aim of sponsoring is to sell their product. It is to create awareness that they have this product and for people to know what they are doing. So, we give them that opportunity to showcase their product but if it is alcohol, we tell them to not show people drinking it and they should not present it as a stimulant. So that it is not like, ‘if not for this alcohol, I would not have scored this goal’. For this, we say just the product should be aired.
APCON has been seen as a monetized agency which fines offenders more than the corrective agency it was initially created to be?
Payment of fine is our final resort. When we capture your material we write to you to stop airing or exposing it and to forward it for vetting so we can give you clearance. If we are not going to give you clearance, we tell you why we are not giving you clearance. We write to you for two or three times it is when you fall to comply, we fine you. We don’t just go out to capture materials for people to come and pay fine. Sanctions are usually the last resort and for us to even sanction you it means you must have been doing it repeatedly. For first offenders, I don’t think anybody has paid a fine. So, it is not just been monetized. It is just to set standards for you to do the right thing.
Give me your thoughts on why advertising creatives are produced outside the country like South Africa instead of Nigeria?
We have been on this issue for a very long time. I will say it is actually what the client wants. They are the ones paying the bills so they will tell you, ‘I want my commercial shot outside’. All those things they go out to do we have them here in Nigeria. So we have a fine for that as well. If you do not want to use your local model or you don’t want to shoot on Nigeria’s location, you have to pay a stipulated amount. Some pay. But we do not encourage the use of foreign model. We encourage the use of our own people. But a client that will tell you, ‘no, I don’t want your face, I want this person’s face. This is how much I am paying you,’ what do we do?
We are actually working on it to promote more of local content. We are actually trying to make the advertisers understand that we have all it takes instead of going out of the shores of the country.
APCON has a school. Why the disparity in school fees between the internal and external students because external students pay higher school fees?
We have the same fees for everybody. It is a professional program. We don’t discriminate that you work with Agency A and you work with Agency B, you will pay higher. Probably what you are saying is that we have two different categories of the programme. We have those that do the post graduate diploma. We have certain fee for that. And we have those that have been in the industry for a while but are yet to get registered. Based on years of experience, we organise a kind of executive program for them. They have their separate fee. Theirs is just a one-off thing probably one weekend, they come for training and the next weekend they are writing the exam. It is not as if we are discriminating, there are two different program and two different fees.
We do not have internal and external students. We just have two programs. If you are a degree holder, you have a stage of the program you fit into and you have a certain amount to pay. We do not take people that are not degree holders. Then, if you are a chief executive of an organisation and you have been in the industry for the past five to seven years but due to one reason or the other you could not register, we call it modified program. Theirs is quite higher because it is an executive program. You don’t expect somebody who just finished university probably who just finished youth service and wants to do the exam to pay the same thing with someone that has been working for close to six to ten years. So, there is nothing like internal or external rather they are both students of the institute.
Why have APCON students not been integrated into the main stream working in other corporate environment?
It is a question of choice. I don’t think any one of them has come for employment and any agency have rejected them. They employ based on merit. If you are not able to prove your worth, we cannot insist they take you. So it depends on how you are able to prove that you know this job, you understand this job and are fit to do this job. We don’t dictate to them that you must be taken but I think they give preference for having finished from APCON. It is not that you finished from here so they must take you. It is a competitive environment and based on your performance is why they will take you.
Is it safe to say that students in the modified program of APON fail their examination more so that they can pay again fee to write another exam since their school fees are higher?
No, we don’t have that. We have our external moderators. We have our invigilators and we have our examiners. The examination is not even done here in APCON. I don’t even know the students. There is no way I can say you fail this person so that he or she come back. We try as much as possible to reduce the failure rate for we know they pay much, so we do not want them to even come back.
But if you see some scripts you will ask yourself if the person is even worthy to be in the advertising industry. Imagine someone who is the head of research in his organisation failing research. Should we pass such a person because he or she paid more? If we do so our integrity will be at stake. So, we cannot just pass all of them. Success at any of our professional programs is based on performance.
What is your evaluation of the 2019 election following the agency’s propitiation for use of hate speech during politician campaigns?
Compared to the 2015 general election, I will say they complied. I did not see any commercial or advert that made use of hate speeches in antagonizing the opponent. What I saw was the use of whatever words they liked which we don’t really have control over during events or political rally. We only regulate commercials and advertisements exposed to the public.
What is your vision for APCON?
APCON is a government agency and we have some other agencies doing similar things that we do. I would like a situation where APCON is positioned as the only agency that regulates the advertising industry.